21st century fireflies


High-tech twist on an old custom

TOKYO (majirox news) — May 2 saw Tokyo’s Sumida River lit up at night with thousands of floating LED bulbs bobbing on the surface of the water. The Tokyo Hotaru (Firefly) Festival included a Symphony of Light, in which these special lights, showcasing a manufacturer’s technology, were deployed.

Set against the soon-to-be-opened Tokyo Sky Tree, the 634 meter (2,080 ft) broadcasting tower, the floating lights echo the traditional Japanese custom of sending candle-lit lanterns floating down rivers, mimicking the appearance of fireflies.

Given the current emphasis on power-saving, these self-contained “wishing star” lights were charged using high-performance solar panels, which stored the electricity in rechargeable batteries. At the end of the event, the 100,000 lights were retrieved, possibly to be used again in future events.

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