Toro Nagashi, or “lantern floating” is a traditional custom involving the release of candlelit paper lanterns into a river to symbolize the guiding of the souls of the deceased toward peace.
This is usually done in late summer, during the Bon Festival, which celebrates and honors the spirits of ancestors. This particular event, held at Tama River between Tokyo and Kanagawa Prefecture, however, is to mourn those lost during the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011 and to pray for those who are still suffering.
It is the third anniversary of the disaster and of this Toro Nagashi, which takes place three days before March 11 each year. More than 1,000 participants are expected to gather along the riverbank at Inada Park this Saturday to pay their respects.
Those wanting to take part may bring paper lanterns from home, and there are workshops scheduled from 2 p.m. for those who would prefer to make their own at the event. Candles will also be handed out.
Other activities include talk sessions and live music by local musicians, which will take place on a stage, starting from 4:30 p.m. If you would like to do more, you can also volunteer to help clean up the site from 2:30 p.m. or make a donation.
The Toro Nagashi event at Inada Park in Kawasaki takes place March 8 from 2 p.m, and the floating of paper lanterns will be from 5 p.m. It’s free to attend, but those releasing lanterns will need to rent life jackets from the reception desk (¥500 for adults, ¥300 for children) which will be available from 3 p.m.