Category Archives: lanterns

NAGASAKI LANTERN FESTIVAL 2019

WHAT: NAGASAKI LANTERN FESTIVAL
WHEN: 5TH TO 19TH FEBRUARY 2019
WHERE: ALL AROUND NAGASAKI WITH MAIN EVENTS AT MINATO & CHUO PARK
COST: FREE

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.

Schedule

  • 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.

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Lantern Festival 2015

WHAT: Lantern Festival 2015
WHEN: Thursday 5th March
WHERE: East Asia
WHY: To Celebrate The End Of The Chinese New Year Holiday

The Chinese Lunar New Year is upon us and this is the Year of the Goat (or sheep).

There are many ‘significant’ events during the CNY festival including the previously mentioned reunion dinner but none more so than the Lantern Festival which takes place this year on the 5th March. The festival is celebrated in one format or another across Asia and in many western societies where large numbers of Eastern Asians reside.

Over in Hong Kong, the most westernized of Chinese areas, it has become something more akin to our Valentine’s Day as it is informally the day of couples spending time together walking in the parks or visiting the temple to view the messages of love on the lanterns. Lanterns are widely acknowledged as symbolizing ‘letting go’ of past issues and the main colour used for them is red which is a sign of good fortune in China.

The lantern festival always falls on a full moon and it marks the birthday of the ‘Heaven Officer’ who blesses and bestows good luck upon the humans. Legend has it that a bird flew down to earth from the heavens, sent to show its great beauty to the Chinese people. However, it was hunted for this beauty and the Jade Emperor was not happy and he sent his troops down to burn down the villages for their acts of defiance and cruelty. But, the daughter of the Jade Emperor warned the villagers of her father’s plans to destroy the village enabling them time to prepare. The people, in an attempt to prevent this from happening, set off loud firecrackers and fireworks, fires in the streets and hung red lanterns from buildings so that the emperor’s people would believe that their village was no more and report back, which they duly did. Phew … a legend is born.

Having had many names for this part of the New Year celebrations over the years, today it is called the Yuan Xiao Festival. Over in China almost every household eats Yuanxiao; which are small rice balls stuffed with either a sweet or savoury filling like peanut butter, candied sweet tangerine peel or sesame.

It is a time for reflection and gentle enjoyment and it is considered a day to relax and enjoy the beautiful gently floating lanterns and beautiful fireworks alongside traditional Lion and Dragon dances.

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Chinese Lantern Festival 2014

The Lantern Festival is one of the most important of five traditional celebrations in the Chinese calendar. Falling on the 15th day of the 1st month of the new Lunar Calendar and it marks the end of the Chinese New Year/Spring Festival celebrations.

The Lantern Festival is linked to religions/legends most of which can be traced back to the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220AD).

One of the earliest ‘Legends’ tells how the first Emperor initiated lavish ceremonies to worship the ‘gods of the heavens’ to unify his people and the celebrations should continue until the next day.

Like with all other Chinese cultural and belief systems, they are almost all closely connected to the natural world. One of the legends suggests that bright red lanterns were created and displayed to ‘trick’ the bad ‘gods’ into believing that the village was on fire and thereby escaping the wrath of the gods.

Along with the lanterns, the celebrations also include a sweet dumpling called Yuanxiao – it is a small, ball-shaped dumpling made of glutinous rice flour/wheat flour with a filling inside. They are usually either boiled, steamed or fried and the round shape is said to symbolize family togetherness which of course is at the centre of the celebrations.

In ancient times, these sweet treats included honey, walnuts, sesame, rose petals, tangerine peel and dried fruits. Today, they are very similar and made to the same recipe tens of hundreds of years later. Further to this, they have added a savoury or ‘salty’ version made with minced beef and vegetables.

Over the years, Buddism and Daoism cultures were absorbed into the celebrations and gradually they spread throughout China.

Lantern parks are purpose-built all over China specifically for the festival. In ancient times the lanterns were usually made of bamboo covered with coloured silk or paper whereas today, whilst many are still made in the traditional way there are now a wide variety in plastic with wired frames as well as glass ones and even flashlight types.

The lantern parks attract literally tens of thousands to simply view the lanterns on display both during the daytime and later in the evening. Many of the lanterns also contain riddles which gathered friends and families will try to solve.

There are still a huge number of processions, involving children who carry these exceptionally beautiful lanterns through the streets of cities and villages across China.

Chap Goh Mei – 元 宵 节 快 乐

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