May. 12, 2020 UPDATE
Arashiyama Toro Nagashi- 嵐山灯籠流し -
This event can easily be enjoyed by just looking. The closest station is near so it is easy to get here. Just be aware that it is going to get crowded on the day of the event.
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PeriodEvery year on August 16.
VenueArashiyama Nakanoshima Park
Story & Recommendation
A mysterious floating lantern event in Arashiyama where the lanterns carry prayers
Arashiyama Toro Nagashi is a lantern floating event that takes place every year in during Obon, a time when it is believed that the spirits of ancestors come back to this world, on August 16. This lantern floating event was started in year 24 of the Showa period, in 1949，in order to appease the spirits of the people who died in the war. Now the event is held as a memorial service for ancestors’ spirits, and every year the lanterns carrying prayers are floated on the Katsura River. On the same day, one of the most famous summer events in Kyoto, Gozan-no-Okuribi, is also held, and you can see the burning Chinese characters on the mountains also by the Katsura River. This is one reason why many of the locals go see this event every year, and also a reason why many tourists also go see it. The sight of the many lanterns floating on the river in the twilight is mysterious.
The lantern-floating starts at 7 p.m. when it starts to get dark. The sight of the lanterns floating on the river in the darkness is very tasteful.
Buy a lantern
The lanterns can be bought by anyone, and you can have your own lantern floated on the river (they can be bought from noon until 8:30 p.m.). If you tell the staff the names of your ancestors, they will write them on the lantern, so this is a great chance for you to experience the culture of Obon first hand. If you want, you can also write the names yourself. One lantern costs 1,000 yen and comes with a long wooden tablet called Mizutoba where you can write the names of your ancestors.