On the final day of Golden Week, the cluster of national holidays in Japan each spring that sends families all over the country into a spring break like frenzy, a new type of festival was launched.
The Tokyo Hotaru (firefly) Festival, sponsored by Tokyo Municipal Govt. and other businesses and government entities literally lit up the Sumidagawa river near Asakusa by floating 100,000 small LED lanterns downstream. The festival, with a heavy Eco-friendly theme highlighted the lanterns, provided by Panasonic, each containing a small solar cell and a rechargeable battery. The result was a summer festival for a new generation, replacing large fireworks display with a high tech version of an ancient tradition.
This was an excellent opportunity for Panasonic, having recently purchased state of the art eco-tech through their Sanyo acquisition, to highlight their line of LED lightbulbs. Each of the 100,000 glowing balls dumped into the river contained a high power LED bulb and an Evolta rechargeable battery. I was very impressed with the overall design of the lanterns, each waterproof ball containing it’s own solar panel recharging system. Two metal leads on the bottom of each ball creates a circuit, that when floating in water is connected turning on the light. Simple, elegant and a stunning effect when floating en mass in the water.
(a shot of my recently obtained Sphero robot pondering joining its friends)
Another winner for this festival is Tokyo Skytree, the new digital broadcast tower that at 634 meters is the second tallest structure in the world. Officially opening in just a few weeks, the tower is illuminated with thousands of high intensity LED light bulbs (also by, you guessed it, Panasonic), but as part of the festival, the tower was fully illuminated. The cherry on the cake was the Supermoon rising right behind the tower just as the festival hit full swing.
Last year many festival were cancelled after the 3/11 quake and the full shutdown of all nuclear reactors in Japan has put huge pressure this summer on power conservation efforts, so this festival couldn’t have come at a better time. A combination of large scale festive, public event, a strong eco-friendly message, and a celebration of the technical ability of the country that was well received at challenging time. I look forward to more events like this in the future and hope this marks a new tradition.