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Thousands of LED ‘Fireflies’ to Float on Tokyo River

Fireflies are celebrated as a sign of summer’s arrival in Japan, and watching the glowing insects dance across streams and ponds is a common pastime on balmy nights in rural parts of the country.

For Tokyoites who can’t make it into the countryside this year to watch the natural spectacle, a more high-tech option is the two-day Tokyo Hotaru (firefly) Festival in May, when more than 100,000 manmade LED-lit “fireflies” will be floated on the city’s Sumida River.

Billed as an event where “city and nature can coexist,” the climax of the festival on the evening of May 6 will see the release of thousands of illuminated globes - each around three inches in diameter - at several locations along the river, which winds through the capital’s east side past the soon-to-be-opened Tokyo Sky Tree.

Around 15,000 “fireflies” will be put into the river by festival attendees (entry to one of the riverside areas is Y1,000 or free for children under elementary school age) with the remainder to be set free by organizers.

This video of a similar event in Osaka last year shows some idea of what to expect.

The “fireflies” are equipped with solar panels and rechargeable batteries in order to make the event as eco-friendly as possible, organizers say. After the festival, organizers say they will scoop up the globes from the river and, although they don’t have a plan for what to do with them after that, they say one option is to keep them for a similar event next year.


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