In June 2014 our O-BON Festival Group organised and ran our first event, a Tōrō Nagashi lantern ceremony on the river Foyle. It was a huge undertaking by a tiny group of probably slightly crazy people! A lot was learned, about the unpredictability of our river and about the limitations of working with the tides and the late sunset of Irish summertime.
Our team was inundated with requests both online and by the many hundreds of people coming along to the quay in order write personal messages on lanterns. Hundreds of people came along to watch the proceedings on the evening of Friday 27th June. There was Japanese drumming performed by Derry based group Ibuki Taiko collaborating with a local Irish harpist and flautist. The Allegri choir sang a Japanese lullaby and local writer Mary Murphy read a beautiful poem as the lanterns were placed on the river.
Sadly, the lanterns could not stay on the water until dusk so the decision was made to display them in front of the city council building, for anyone who wished to view them there. They made a beautiful sight indeed.
Everyone involved were encouraged by the public interest and support for this part of the traditional O-BON celebrations and went on to plan a full outreach programme which lead to a full O-BON festival in June 2015.