Yesterday, I attended Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens’ Lantern Festival for the first time. There was folk-dancing, taiko drumming, Japanese street food and so much more. In the Spirit of Obon, homage to ancestors, there was a lantern ceremony at sunset. I see why tickets were sold out in just 13 days after it went on sale to the general public. I had fun and it was beautiful.
After the members only hour between 2-3pm, gates opened to the general public. I highly recommend you buy a lantern first. It sold out that night and I came across a lot of disappointed people.
The lanterns were $10 each. Tanzaku slips were also available for $1. The slips were all put inside a boat then set on fire during the ceremony. After I finished writing my message on the lantern, I dropped it off at one of the designated areas.
I finally started walking around. There was a marketplace and a tent where visitors can purchase festival shirts or get it printed for free. Children games and photo opportunities with beautiful signs as a background were available around the garden.
I’m still kicking myself for going to the festival without an empty stomach lol. There was a nice selection of Japanese dishes, street food and beverages available. After deciding to just get a snack, I went in line to exchange my cash for tickets.
While sending pictures to a close friend of mine, she all but yelled at me to try the hanami dango.
I saw on my program that the traditional dance group, Chitose Kai, were up next to perform Japanese fold-dancing soon. I had been looking forward to seeing the ladies when I learned about them so I walked over to the Matsubi Stage to look for a good seat.
There was an announcer who explained the meaning behind each performance. The ladies were beautiful on stage.
The announcer invited the audience to learn some of the dances. I was shy but after seeing everyone smiling and enjoying themselves, I decided to join at the end.
After the show, I saw volunteers had started placing the lanterns on the barges and were getting ready to pull it over to the middle of the lake with their boat. After a few minutes, I had found spot with a good view. It was only 5:30 pm but an hour later, the good spots were all gone and people had to stand behind us.
The sun had set and the lanterns were lit. The children around me were clapping and telling their parents how pretty they were. Families were having picnics while watching the fireworks or taking pictures of the lanterns. It was a very lovely evening.
Official event website: Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens’ Lantern Festival