Tokyo River Lit Up By 100,000 Glowing Orbs

  • We have recently written about how waterfront lighting can create dramatic and memorable effects. Even the canals of Amsterdam have been involved in a bioluminecsence design proposal. This past May, the city of Tokyo executed an exciting temporary lightshow in its Sumida River as part of their Hotaru (“firefly”) Festival.

    One hundred thousand plastic orbs, each containing a bright blue LED, were sent flowing down the river as a tribute to the fireflies that used to flourish along the river. The design of the orbs was environmentally-conscious with solar-powered LEDs. They were also sized so that fish would not accidentally swallow them and plans were put in place to recapture the orbs further downstream.

    The orbs were informally named “prayer stars”, alluding to the cultural value placed on water as a means of safe passage for spirits. This installation is a beautiful example how technology can applied in cultural events to bring to life organic and traditional themes.