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Enjoy Floating Lanterns on Thursday Evening

BioPark Celebrates Japanese Festival with Exchange Students

Paper lanterns on the banks of the river by the Albuquerque bridge in Sasebo, Japan. Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons: http://bit.ly/1tihB6r

July 28, 2014

From mid-July through mid-August, communities across Japan celebrate Obon, a three-day festival to honor their ancestors. After dark on the final evening, families light paper lanterns to float on nearby rivers and carry the ancestors' soul back to their peaceful resting place. This Thursday, Summer Nights concert-goers can participate in Toro Nagashi--or Floating Lantern--with a group of Japanese students visiting from our sister city, Sasebo.

While the Barefoot Movement plays Americana music on the Botanic Garden's Festival Green, as the sun begins to set, guests can join the Japanese exchange students and their host families at the Sasebo Japanese Garden pond to enjoy a sea of floating lights. Guests can enjoy the floating lanterns beginning during the concert intermission at 7:45 p.m. until 9 p.m.

"Although the City of Sasebo doesn't celebrate Obon until August, this is an interesting way to represent our connection with the people of Sasebo," says Maria Thomas, Assistant Curator. "It's a familial tie of a different sort, and the lanterns are really beautiful and representative of the time of year.

The exchange students will be participating in many other experiences around Albuquerque with their local host families, including a service project at the Sasebo Japanese Garden. They will plant two maple trees--one Japanese maple and one bigtooth maple, native to New Mexico--in the garden to represent the two sister cities. Toro Nagashi events are included with admission to Summer Nights Concert.

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