WHAT: NAGASAKI LANTERN FESTIVAL
WHEN: 5TH TO 19TH FEBRUARY 2019
WHERE: ALL AROUND NAGASAKI WITH MAIN EVENTS AT MINATO & CHUO PARK
Be mesmerised and enchanted by the brightly coloured, exotic dreamworld this winter, by visiting the spectacular lantern festival in Nagasaki.
The original celebration took place alongside Chinese New Year celebrations in Nagasaki’s Chinatown, in 1994 it expanded from the Chinatown to all over Nagasaki and was officially named the Nagasaki lantern festival.
The festival lasts throughout the 15 days of the Chinese lunar new year celebrations and has now become so incredibly popular that over 1 million locals and visitors come along to see the lanterns and all the beauty that Nagasaki has to offer.
Known for one of the biggest Chinatowns in Japan alongside Yokohama and Kobe, you can tell that the city had a strong influence from China with their trading history and the celebrations that are involved on these days.
Along with the lanterns are acrobatics shows, lion and dragon dances, theatre performances, emperors’ parade, and of course fireworks. If you fancy trying the local cuisine there are plenty of food stalls to choose from and souvenir shops to take a little memento home with you.
With plenty to see and do all over Nagasaki during the celebrations, you can cram plenty into your days. If you are short on time however, the two main places to where all the action takes place are Minato Park and Chuo Park.
- 5th February – Opening Ceremony – 5:30pm to 6pm
The opening ceremony and lantern lighting for the 15 days begin at Chuo park there is just the lantern lighting whereas at Minato park you have the added extra of the fireworks.
- 9th & 16th February – Emperors Parade – 2pm to 4:30pm
This is an enactment of how the emperor and empress celebrated the new year with his people during the Qing dynasty. Participants include slaves to carry them both on seats and over 150 flag bearers parading around in Chinese costumes.
- 10th & 17th February – Maso Procession – 1pm to 4pm
This was originally carried out by the crews of the Chinese ships entering the port at Nagasaki during the Edo period.
Alongside the schedule here is another few pointers for you to have a look out for and make sure that you don’t miss out on:
Dragon Dance – This is thought to have originated from China, as a rainmaking ritual. Wearing traditional clothing the locals chant to the clouds attempting to make it rain, along with carrying a 20-foot dragon trying to attempt to swallow up the moon, the rain chant is done to ensure a good harvest.
Lion Dance – this is characterised by bright coloured costumes and Chinese percussion instruments, with both acrobatic and energy filled rhythms; this is a must see.
Erhu – these are local performances by the residents of Erhu and Kokyu, they include traditional Chinese instruments and is held at various venues around the city.
For the photographers out there to get perfect snapshots the best place to be is by the Megane Bridge, known as Japans oldest arch-shaped bridge, where you will see the only yellow coloured lanterns of the whole festival. Hanging above the water they give off a glowing reflection in the water below as though it is alight; a beautiful sight to see.
As well as the lanterns, there are paper ornaments of the Chinese Zodiac animals. This year celebrates the Year of The Pig, so the main attraction will be centred around this. Also, there will be Chinese gods on display amongst other things that are known or supposed to bring good luck. These fantastic lantern masterpieces are often made by Chinese artisans or brought over from China each year specifically for this celebration.
Those born in the Year of the Pig are said to be artistic, refined and intuitive with good manners and a refined attitude. Whilst on the whole people born this year are caring and self-effacing, they can be stubborn and indecisive.