I nternationally admired for the spring cherry blossoms and the cascade of scarlets, crimsons and cinnamon-colored leaves during autumn, the city of Kyoto needs little dressing up. Away from the treetops, though, the city still manages to put on a show with the illuminated nightscapes of the biannual hanatoro (which literally means flower and light road).
For 10 days in March, Kyoto’s landmarks are lit up during the Higashiyama hanatoro (a winter version is held in the Arashiyama area in December). Around 2,500 lanterns will adorn a 4.6-km area that incorporates the streets, shrines and temples of the ancient capital.
“There will be six types of lanterns on display,” says Miyako Yoshida of the Hanatoro Promotion Council. “They’re made of different materials and will show visitors the variety of culture in Kyoto.”
Starting March 12 and running until March 21, the event will — of course — only be in operation in the evenings. As part of the festivities, there will be an Ikebana Promenade as part of the main walking path and contemporary ikebana (flower arrangement) will be exhibited in Maruyama Park. Another attraction to note in Maruyama Park is the takeakari, where around 1,000 candle-lit pieces of bamboo are floated down the Yoshimizu Stream in a breathtaking vision of light and water.
“Another highlight of the event will be the street performances given by students from the Kyoto area,” says Yoshida. “We have the full support of the local residents and we are sure the hanatoro will become yet another one of Kyoto’s trademarks.”
Kyoto Higashiyama Hanatoro takes place from March 12-21. Illumination hours are 6 p.m. till 9:30 p.m. (the event is free, but charges apply for entry to shrines and temples). For more information, visit www.hanatouro.jp.