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TOKYO

Turn the lights out for a piece of ‘me’ time

by Natasha Vik

Staff Writer

“Turn off the lights, and take it slow tonight”: If this reads like advice on how to pamper yourself at the end of a long work week, that isn’t entirely off the mark.

The phrase is the tagline for Candle Night, which, while eco-friendly in nature, encourages people to turn off the lights not only to save energy, but also to recharge themselves.

First organized on the summer solstice of 2003 by organic-food delivery service Daichi wo Mamoru Kai, the event has become one of the largest yearly happenings in Tokyo. It’s held every year on the grounds of Zojoji Temple, with the highlight of the evening being a blackout countdown by Tokyo Tower. There are also live musical performances — this year by singer-songwriters Hanaregumi and Takada Ren — as well as food trucks selling eco-snacks and, of course, thousands of lit candles setting the mood.

Now in its 11th year, the Candle Night concept has grown considerably over time and spread across the country; independent organizers from Sapporo to Kagoshima put on events every year coinciding with the summer and winter solstices. Following the Great East Japan Earthquake and subsequent energy-saving measures, Candle Night has become even more determined in promoting its aims.

While it might all sound like something for the ecologically inclined, promoters emphasize that it’s not just about saving the environment. Rather, it’s about getting together with family and friends, or taking a moment for yourself, and enjoying quality time. Think of it as “me” time, with a good conscience.

Candle Night 2013 takes places at Zojoji Temple in Minato-ku, Tokyo, on June 21 (6 p.m.-9 p.m.). For more information, visit www.daichi.or.jp/cp/candlenight2013/.