August is relaxing. Especially in Sendai. Hot weather, many colorful events, Tanabata, fireworks and then - Obon, when temples are crowded and supermarkets are offering treats not only for the living, but also for those who have passed away. This atmosphere of prolonged festival helps to get out of everyday worries (and let’s admit - this is priceless), but there comes a day when you have to get back to your job, your research, your troubles and concerns. And the festival gradually slips away.
This is what Toro-Nagashi (floating lantern festival, August 20) looks like - farewell to summer and festival, back to normal.
In Sendai, Toro-nagashi started as a memorial service for those who died of hunger or perished in natural disasters, but later this tradition was transformed into a beautiful summer festival. Today, people come to the riverbanks of Hirosegawa to have fun and enjoy the last hot days of summer.
This “Evening of light, water and concert” (another name for the festival) is a combination of amusement and religious ritual with musical performances, sutra chanting by Buddhist priests of different schools and food stoles, ending with fireworks (let’s all hope that this time the weather is good enough!). It can a perfect family event, or a nice evening in a company of friends.
The concert starts as 16:00. The opening ceremony for the lantern part is from 17:30, with its religious part (sutra chanting) starting at 18:00, while the fireworks start at 19:45. Participation is free.
In fact, although the ceremony is Buddhist, everyone, regardless of religious affiliation, can light a lantern for the ancestors, or simply commemorate the summer. In this case, you have to purchase a ticket (2000 yen the day of) either at the festival, or beforehand, at one of the shops in Kawaramachi or Nagamachi. For more about lanterns, see the link below (Japanese).
Festival grounds are situated at the Miyazawa bridge, just a 2-minute walk from Kawaramachi subway station on the Nanboku Line.