Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Toro Nagashi is another of those beautiful Japanese traditions involving the difficult-to-photograph lantern. Toro Nagashi is related to Obon, the summer festival which celebrates the souls of those who have departed this world.
During Toro Nagashi, participants write the names of the deceased on lanterns, then set the lanterns afloat in water to help guide the souls (who have been visiting) back to the other world.
There is a particularly beautiful version of this festival in Tokyo. It takes place every July 13th, in Chidorigafuchi Park canal by the Imperial Palace. In this version of Toro Nagashi, lucky participants who lined up early enough will get to rent a boat. Then, on signal, everyone puts their lanterns in the water while an orchestra plays nostalgic music and a small fireworks display goes off. It is a beautiful sight, if a little bit harrowing what with all the sparklers, crashing boats and fireworks.