This post is later than expected: I went to the Como Park Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival last Sunday and it’s taken me almost a week to get around to saying anything about it. It’s an annual celebration, held roughly around the time of Obon in Japan, although our festival is more a general celebration of Japanese culture.
The festival ran from about 3:00 to after sunset, although I left well before the end. It was frustrating: I wanted to see the taiko drummers, who were the first performance of the day, but I also wanted to see the lanterns set to float on the pond, and that’s at dusk. The lanterns lost out.
I had a good seat for the taiko performance; my cell phone camera just isn’t doing it justice. There may very well be a kind of musical performance that asks for more energy from the musicians than taiko drumming, but I can’t think of what it might be. At least we had pleasant weather for the festival, almost cool. The tree I was sitting under might have disagreed about how things were going: there was almost no shade because the leaves had been eaten to lace. If that’s a sign of Japanese beetle infestation, it’s bitterly appropriate.
I don’t think I knew that Como Park’s Japanese garden was as large as it is, but I haven’t been there in years and perhaps they’ve expanded it. There was some kind of construction project going on there (you can see the fenced-off area behind the taiko drummers) which is supposed to open by next spring. Maybe I’ll get back here for next year’s festival and see it. In the meantime, there was still plenty to admire:
Plus all the stuff I didn’t get pictures of (there comes a point where I give up on trying to use the cell phone camera and just vow to bring the real camera in the future). A violin-and-koto group. Lots of vendors of Japanese food and drinks, both fresh and packaged. Games for children, including one in which you try to catch a goldfish with a paper scoop and flip it into a cup before your scoop dissolves—succeed and you win the fish. Or if you don’t want to run the risk of having to bring home a new pet, take the kids to the storytelling booth. There were martial arts demonstrations: I remember aikido and archery, but I’m sure there were others. Traditional arts and crafts like bonsai, ikebana, and saori weaving were demonstrated. I didn’t take any of the brochures offered by the Japan America Society of Minnesota, but I probably looked really interested in them. Actually, I was admiring the crocheted sushi paperweights holding them down. I really must a) make it back to next year’s festival, and b) try to stay long enough to see the lantern-lighting.