Floating lanterns on lake

Summertime In Japan

The weather In Japan is somewhat similar to the weather here in Fresno. On average, Japan sees weather ranging from 70 -100 degrees Fahrenheit. One of the larger differences is that their summertime is considered typhoon season. A typhoon is a tropical cyclone that develops in the Northwestern Pacific Basin. The area is the most active tropical cyclone basin on Earth. Typhoons are very similar, if not the same as the hurricanes we get in the US. The only difference between the two is the location where the storm occurs. In summer, there is an average of about 30 typhoons that range in severity. Although the weather might be hot and humid, it doesn’t stop the festivities.

Despite the temperature in Japan, there are several festivals and traditions. Japan celebrates countless festivals over the summer, most of them include fireworks, too. Some of the larger festivals are the Nagaoka Matsuri, Tenjin Matsuri and Toro Nagashi. The Nagaoka Matsuri is a two-day celebration featuring over 20,000 fireworks. It is held in the first week of August, people from across the world gather along the banks of the Shinano River to witness the spectacular sight. The Tenjin Matsuri festival in Osaka is ornately decorated floats that are carried across the center of the city, followed by a river procession and a massive
fireworks display. The scale of the event is massive. There are countless floats, boats, and fireworks. Lastly there is the Toro Nagashi festival. Each August, thousands of Japanese lanterns are floated on rivers, traditionally to celebrate the end of O-bon, a Buddhist festival. It is the second largest celebration in Japan.
Toro Nagashi officially begins at the moment the ancestors commence their return to the spirit world. Families come together to guide the spirits down to the sea using traditional candle-lit lanterns. In the Japanese belief system, all humans originally came from water, so the lanterns visually represent the spirits return to the elements.

Even if all these festivals are in another country, some of them are recreated here in the US. Here at the Shinzen Garden, we celebrate Toro Nagashi. This upcoming event is on August 20th 2022, where we will celebrate with floating lanterns on the lake in Woodward park. To learn more about it, visit us at ShinzenJapaneseGarden.org/Toro

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