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TOKYO

Sumida River to light up with LED fireflies

by Maaya Konagai

Staff Writer

Japan isn’t a difficult place to live. If you want to eat Mexican food, there are Mexican restaurants. If you want to buy brand-name British clothes, there are shops and websites that deliver. So Tokyo Hotaru Festival asks the question: What does Tokyo, where you can get anything, really need now?

The answer, organizers say, has to do with a return to the past. Long ago, the Sumida River, which runs through Tokyo’s east end, was one of the life sources of the community. The Hotaru Festival will try to draw attention to an effort by locals to beautify the river and its precincts. As May 5 is Children’s Day in Japan, there will be a lot of activities for families to do by the river.

One activity aimed specifically at children is the Kodomo no Fune no Parade (Children’s Boat Parade). Kids will be asked to create a special flag and then board a boat. They will then fly their flags as part of a nautical parade down Sumida River.

Promising to be one of the most breathtakingly beautiful activities is the Hikari no Symphony (Symphony of Lights) on May 6, for which people will be able to float inori no hoshi (wishing stars) down the river in the form of LED lights. The aim is to make the riverbed look as if it has been populated by thousands of fireflies — an image that many associate with their childhood and growing up in the countryside. The nearby Tokyo Sky Tree, which is scheduled to open on May 22, will also be lit up for this portion of the event.

The Tokyo Hotaru Festival will take place at Sumida Terrace (between the Kototoi and Azuma bridges), on the border of Taito-ku and Sumida-ku, Tokyo, on May 5 (10 a.m. to 8 p.m.) and May 6 (10 a.m. to 9 p.m.). Admission is free, but participation in the Symphony of Lights costs ¥ 1,000 for junior high school students and older. For more details, visit www.tokyo-hotaru.jp (in Japanese).