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River of Memories: Touro Nagashi Floats Emotions and Lanterns Alike!



2023.08.03 (Thu)

By Dan Lewis, inbound tourism advisor and consultant, long-term Japan resident & outdoor activity enthusiast.

The Sumida River Floating Lantern Festival, lovingly dubbed "Touro Nagashi," is a treasured Japanese summer tradition that flows straight into the hearts of both locals and visitors. This time-honored event holds a deep cultural significance and has its origins in 1964 when lanterns were gently set adrift during a reconstruction festival in Asakusa. Commemorating the souls lost in the Great Kanto Earthquake and Tokyo Air Raid, this event becomes an illuminating tribute to the departed.
On August 12, 2023, the Sumida River Terrace in Sumida Ward and Sumida Park Terrace in Taito Ward, Tokyo, will light up with countless lanterns. People will gather on both riverbanks, immersing themselves in the serene moment while sending heartfelt prayers and gratitude downstream.
This event’s beauty lies in its simplicity. Attendees can obtain lanterns in advance from the Asakusa Tourist Federation or the Sumida City Tourist Association. These delicate candle-lit lanterns hold emotional significance as participants write the names of deceased loved ones and express their wishes before releasing them onto the river. Tourists can do the same, or write a wish they hope will be granted.
As the sun sets, lanterns gently drift along the water's surface, their soft glimmer illuminating the night sky. It's a soul-stirring sight that leaves lasting memories for all who witness it. The warm glow reflects the cherished memories in the hearts of those taking part in this event.
Both Sumida and Taito wards actively partake in the festival, symbolizing unity and shared cultural heritage. Its revival in 2005 rekindled a lost tradition, connecting generations and keeping the spirit of remembrance alive.
Asakusa Station on the Tokyo Metro Ginza Line, Tobu Skytree Line, or Tsukuba Express provides easy access to the event venue, welcoming visitors to this mesmerizing occasion.
The Sumida River Floating Lantern Festival is more than just an event; it's a profound experience that allows people to express gratitude, pay homage to the past, and create a bridge between the living and departed. Don't miss the chance to be part of this heartwarming tribute to ancestors and immerse yourself in the beauty and significance of the Sumida River Touro Nagashi if you find yourself in Tokyo on August 12, 2023.

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