Summer season in Japan is festival season! Various events are held everywhere throughout the country – a lot them in Tokyo. One highlight every summer is a romantic lantern festival at Odaiba – the leisure island in the middle of Tokyo. At this festival, everyone can join in and participate.
In 2017, the “Marine Lantern Festival” has been celebrated for the 14th time in Odaiba, Tokyo, on July 16th and 17th. One of these two days is a national holiday, called “Marine Day” (umi no hi =day of the sea). When you exchange the Chinese character “hi” with another character pronounced the same, “day if the sea” becomes “lights of the sea” which is the festivals name: “Umi no hi matsuri”.
In this festival, people light candles in a colorful (fire resistant) paper bags and pray for the safety of the sea. Starting in the afternoon, 50,000 paper lamps are arranged in different patterns, creating large, colorful images on the beach of Odaiba Marine Park. The design of the lantern arrangement changes every year. This year’s theme was “Edo”, which is the old name of Tokyo. As you can see in the picture below, they had the Edo Castle, old gold coins, and a beautiful lady with an umbrella as motives.
Join in and help to make the magic happen!
Since anyone can participate as a volunteer, this festival is a great activity when you are traveling with children. After the lanterns are arranged on the beach, you can wait for the sunset while swimming in the sea, playing on the beach, watching the music and dance program at a special stage nearby, or dining at a restaurant with an ocean view.
Finally at 18:30 it gets dark. It’s time to light the candles! Anyone can help. There were a lot of couples and parents with young children. Everybody seemed to very excited and happy. I also really enjoyed this part. It was so much fun and impressive to see, that you can actually light 50,000 candles when everyone helps doing it.
The lanterns are not the only lights…
I completely focused on lighting the candles. When I looked up, I was surprised by the beautiful scenery. The gently shining paper lamps where not the only lights. Restaurant ships were drifting on the calm ocean. There was the Rainbow Bridge and – behind it – the beautiful night panorama of Tokyo. How romantic!
However, if you actually want to see the full picture, you’ll have to climb the “Marin House” – with is a tower with a stairway connecting the beach with the promenades next to the shopping malls. There is an an observation deck where you can take pictures.
“Marine Lantern Festival” was much more fun than I expected. It was really beautiful. Next year’s festival will be held on July 16, 2018. Get your phone out and add this event to your calendar right now. You can’t miss it!
Odaiba Marine Park
Address: Odaiba Kaihin Koen, 1-chome, Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo-to
Access: 4 min. on foot from “Odaiba Kaihin Koen Station” (Yurikamome Line)
8 min. on foot from “Tokyo Teleport” station (Rinkai Line)