The Lantern Festival Brought Thousands Together for a Beautiful Celebration
By Veronica Haggar
Japanese culture was celebrated in the sold out event, The Lantern Festival, on Oct. 17 at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens.
The Lantern Festival is celebrated in the spirit of Obon, one of the most important Japanese holidays, a time of the year in which the spirits of the ancestors visit their living descendants. During the last day of celebration, families and the entire Japanese community come together to light the way back to the other world with lanterns to guide the spirits back after their visit.
“The lantern festival in particular, offers an opportunity to pay homage to one’s ancestors,” said Monika Amar, Morikami’s marketing and events coordinator. “it’s a beautiful experience to see the lanterns floating and really to have a moment to connect with people you’ve lost and pay respect to their memory.”
The festival featured an Ennichi Street Fair, rousing taiko drum performances by Fushu Daiko, Japanese folk dancing, and of course, saving the best for last, the festival ended with the spectacular paper lanterns floating in the lake and a beautiful firework show lighting up the sky.
Ennichi Street Fair consisted of fun games for the kids, delicious variety of Pan-Asian and all American food favorites, and a marketplace offering different crafts, from soaps to organic tea, bonsais, necklaces, uchiwa fans and more.
“This year in particular we decided to highlight more the japanese street fair,” said Amar. “This year in particular we offered dango, it’s a japanese street fair favorite, and moki which is a rice treat and it’s flavored with green tea and red beans.”
The Kirin Beer Garden featured one of Japan’s most prominent breweries. The Sake Station offered premium Japanese sake as well as tasting notes.
The floating lantern sleeves, also called toro nagashi, were sold at the festival. On the lanterns, guests would write messages dedicated to their beloved ancestors.
The colorful tanzaku slips sold at the festival, decorated the boat-shaped lantern called shoryobune. Shoryobune means “boat for the spirits of the deceased” and guests wrote messages on the tanzaku slips for their loved ones who have passed away recently, placing them on the shoryobune.
Guests were laying on their blankets, sitting on their chairs, and preparing their cameras around the lake since early in the afternoon, saving their spots to watch the lanterns flow while relaxing with a peaceful and joyful atmosphere. Some even dressed up with traditional Japanese clothes.
Morikami has been celebrating the Lantern Festival for 38 years now, and guests hope it will continue for many more.