Bonsai, martial arts, singing, dancing, drumming, delicious food and other aspects of Japanese culture, will be featured at the annual Como Park Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival, a family-friendly event, reminiscent of Japan’s annual Obon holiday, on Sunday, August 20, 2017 on the grounds of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Como Park from 3:00pm – 9:00pm.
Obon is an important Japanese cultural and family holiday, at which ancestral spirits are said to revisit their families for three days. Families pay their respects at grave sites and put out offerings of food and drink on a tray before household altars. They also light lanterns or small fires outside the house to symbolically guide the souls to the home. On the last evening of Obon, lanterns again guide the spirits back to their resting places.
The Lantern Lighting Festival encompasses Japanese tradition—through music, dance, crafts, martial arts and lanterns. Entertainment in the Como Ordway Memorial Japanese Garden and on the main stage will include several taiko drumming groups, koto (Japanese sitar), shakuhachis (bamboo flutes), traditional and contemporary dance and singing. Martial arts, Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), origami demonstrations and a host of other cultural exhibits and demonstrations will line several paths through the grounds. Japanese food and dozens of culturally-related items will be for sale.
The day will culminate at dusk with the main event—the lantern lighting. Six stone lanterns and floating paper lanterns throughout the Japanese garden pond and the Frog Pond will create a vision of peacefulness and harmony to commemorate the dead.
The Como Park Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival, produced by Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, Japan America Society of Minnesota, and Saint Paul Nagasaki Sister City Committee will be held on Sunday, August 20, 2017 from 3:00pm-9:00pm. Admission is $5.00 per adult (13+), $3.00 per child (ages 3-12) and Seniors (ages 65+), free for children under 3. Free shuttle bus service will be available from a staffed off-site parking lot at the District Service Center located at 1930 Como Ave.
Click the images below to view the day’s events. In 2016 we are expanding the footprint of the festival and adding more food vendors, entertainment, and porta-potties!