Japanese lanterns to float on the Foyle

A unique Japanese tradition is to take place on the banks of the Foyle during the LegenDerry Maritime Festival.

The Obon on the Foyle Festival Group is a new local collective set up to celebrate and promote Japanese culture and arts in Londonderry.

They are launching their first year of celebration during the Maritime Festival with an atmospheric ceremony on Friday, June 27, at 9pm on the main stage at the Festival Village.

Fiona Umetsu, one of the organisers, explained: “Obon is an important Japanese festival to remember and celebrate your ancestors. It is believed that each year during Obon, the ancestors’ spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.

“At the end of the festival, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes and seas in order to guide the spirits back into their world.”

Writing the names of loved ones, or writing a message or poem onto the lanterns is a traditional part of the tōrō nagashi ceremony in Japan.

Ms Umetsu said: “If you would like to place the name of a loved one or simply a personal message on one of the lanterns please contact one of our festival crew. We will have a lantern request stand on the quay throughout the Clipper Maritime Festival week.

“On the night of June 27th, there will be an intimate and atmospheric ceremony narrated by the fabulous Mary Murphy.

“There will also be music from Ibuki Taiko and guests, Paul Brady, Dearbhla Bradley and the Allegri choir, as the lanterns are taken and floated on the river. It promises to be a truly beautiful and memorable event.”

Lantern requests can also be made via the facebook ‘obon on the foyle’ page. Further details are available by emailing obononthefoyle@gmail.com

The LegenDerry Maritime Festival is organised by Derry City Council with funding support from NITB and Diageo and delivery support from Foyle Port, the Loughs Agency, Visit Derry and Ilex.

For details of Festival events, visit www.legenderrymaritimefestival.com