Bonsai, martial arts, singing, dancing, drumming, delicious food and other aspects of Japanese culture, will be featured at the annual Como Park Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival, a family-friendly event, reminiscent of Japan’s annual Obon holiday, on the grounds of the Marjorie McNeely Conservatory in Como Park.
Obon is an important Japanese cultural and family holiday, at which ancestral spirits are said to revisit their families for three days. Families pay their respects at gravesites and put out offerings of food and drink on a tray before household altars. They also light lanterns or small fires outside the house to symbolically guide the souls to the home. On the last evening of Obon, lanterns again guide the spirits back to their resting places.
The Lantern Lighting Festival encompasses Japanese tradition—through music, dance, crafts, martial arts and lanterns. The Marjorie McNeely Conservatory grounds will open at 3:00 PM, and live entertainment in the Como Ordway Memorial Japanese Garden and on the main stage will begin at 3:30 PM. Entertainment will include several taiko drumming groups, koto (Japanese sitar), shakuhachis (bamboo flutes), traditional and contemporary dance and singing. Martial arts, Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), origami demonstrations and a host of other cultural exhibits and demonstrations will line several paths through the grounds. Japanese food and dozens of culturally-related items will be for sale.
The day will culminate at dusk with the main event—the lantern lighting. Six stone lanterns and floating paper lanterns throughout the Japanese garden pond and the Frog Pond will create a vision of peacefulness and harmony to commemorate the dead.
The Como Park Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival is produced by Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, Japan America Society of Minnesota, and Saint Paul Nagasaki Sister City Committee. Admission is $5.00 per adult, $3.00 per child 3-12 and Seniors 65+, and free for ages 2 and under. Free shuttle bus service will be available.
The final schedule and list of exhibitors has been posted. Those in blue will be group meetings -- look for other MSPMC group members wearing the red & white Meetup wrist bands ($1 donation appreciated). Of course you're welcome to arrive early, wander, and see whatever you like.
Main Entertainment Stage
- 3:30 -- Kogen Taiko
- 4:00 -- Minnesota Okinawa Sanshinkai
- 4:30 -- Program
- 4:40 -- Minnesota Japanese School Soranbushi Dancers
- 4:50 -- Sakura Kai Koto
- 5:20 -- Sansei Yonsei Kai (group meeting)
- 5:50 -- Mu Min (group meeting)
- 6:20 -- Mikaharu Kai
- 6:50 -- Mu Daiko (group meeting)
- 7:20 -- Bon Odori performance (group meeting)
Martial Arts Stage & Exhibit Booths
- 3:00 -- Aikido Yoshokai of Minnesota
- 3:20 -- Budo
- 3:50 -- Aikido of Minnesota
- 4:10 -- Minnesota Ki Society
- 4:40 -- KaiShin Dojo
- 5:00 -- Minnesota Kyudo Renmei
- 5:30 -- Aikido Yoshokai of Minnesota
- 5:50 -- Budo
- 6:20 -- Aikido of Minnesota
- 6:40 -- Minnesota Ki Society
- 7:10 -- KaiShin Dojo
- 7:30 -- Minnesota Kyudo Renmei
- 4:00, 5:00, 6:00 -- Fern Davidson on Koto
- 4:30, 5:30, 6:30 -- Leo Hansen on Shakuhachi
Front Steps of the Conservatory
- 3:30, 4:30, 5:30, 6:30 -- Minnesota Bonsai Society, Michael Porcaro
- 8:00 -- Fern Davidson on Koto (group meeting)
- 8:15 -- Lantern Lighting (group meeting)