“What if Tokyo became a city that could coexist with nature?” is the question that sits at the heart of “Tokyo Hotaru” (Tokyo fireflies), a light and sound festival to be held along the Sumida River on May 5 and 6 during this year’s Golden Week.
With the festival, organizers hope to help Tokyo become a city of “world-class beauty,” emphasizing the importance of comfort and coexistence with nature to a city that seems to be obsessed with “convenience”.
The event is part of “Sumida River Renaissance,” a project recently revealed by the Tokyo government to revitalize the Sumida River area, which flourished as a commercial and cultural hub during the Edo Period (1603-1868), but declined in prosperity in the 20th century as Japan’s modernization and economic growth led to a shift in land transportation.
The first day of the event, May 5, falls on the Japanese national holiday of Children’s Day, and the festivities will begin with the transformation of the Sumida River into “The Country of River Children,” with arts and crafts workshops held throughout the day and a parade in the afternoon.
The day will culminate in the “Shrine of Light Parade,” where children will carry a mikoshi portable shrine designed and built by the Tokyo University of the Arts specially for the event.
During the day of May 6, a symposium will be held to introduce current efforts towards making Tokyo a city of world-class beauty and discuss ideas for the future.
However, the festival’s main attraction is the “Symphony of Light,” where 10,000 solar-powered LED lights will be released into the Sumida River to emulate what it might look like if fireflies returned to the river.
All of this will take place with the newly-completed Tokyo Sky Tree standing illuminated in the background.
The event will begin at 6:30 and run until 9:00 on the evening of May 6, rain-or-shine, and participants have the option to purchase a ticket for 1000 yen that gives them access to the priority viewing area at the riverside and an LED light to throw into the river themselves. Ticket may be reserved online at the Tokyo Hotaru website beginning April 4.
By the looks of it, Tokyo Hotaru promises to be a fantastic two days—and it’s only the beginning: riverside cafes, beer gardens, live music and a number of other events are currently in the works, ensuring that this river won’t dry up anytime soon. And with Tokyo Sky Tree set to open later this month, the Sumida River may shape up to be one of Tokyo’s most vibrant areas.
Source: Tokyo Hotaru Festival 2012