Como Japanese Lantern Lighting Festival

2015 Event Information

Japanese lanterns light up the Frog Pond outside the Como Conservatory.

Sunday, August 23, 2015 from 3:00pm to dusk at Como Park. This year marks the 60th sister-city anniversary, and Nagasaki Mayor Taue and the delegation will join us at the festival.  Information for 2015 at this point is subject to change.

– 3:00 Gates & Exhibits Open
– 3:30 Performances Begin
– 7:30 Bon Odori
– 8:00 Exhibits Close
– 8:15 Lantern Lighting
– 10:00 Last Shuttle Departs from Como Park

Admission: $5 per person, $3 per child (3-12) & senior (age 65+). Children 2 & under are free.

More information about Como Lantern Lighting Festival may be found here



Volunteers are always needed in a variety of functions to assist in the planning and execution of events. Total time commitment varies depending on how involved you wish to be!

Festival Coordinator Assistant Needed

This is a very fun and rewarding volunteer activity! We would like to train the new person during this year’s JLLF  to introduce the performers to the new coordinator and show you the routine. Some assistance with event coordination the week before the 2013 festival may be needed. Total time commitment for the year: 20 hours (that’s less than 2 days!) If you are interested, please contact SPNSCC.

SPNSCC Booth Cashiers

Each year SPNSCC hosts an information booth and Japanese bazaar at the festival. We are in need of people to be cashiers, to help stock the booth, and to answer questions from the public about SPNSCC and membership. Total time commitment for the year: 3-4 hours. If you are interested, please contact SPNSCC.



Booths feature Japanese food, merchandise, and information about various groups and causes.

The Lantern Lighting Festival, the largest Japan-related festival in Minnesota, takes place in Como Park every August. Modeled after summer festivals held across Japan, it features stage performances, cultural demonstrations, activities, and, of course, Japanese food. The event is reminiscent of Japan’s annual Obon holiday, an important cultural and family event. During this holiday it is said that ancestral spirits revisit their families for three days. Many people will return home to pay their respects at grave-sites, and often small paper lanterns are lit and floated down the river to guide ancestor’s spirits. The Obon Festival also features the Bon Odori, or folk dance, in which all are invited to join in the circle and dance.

The Como Park Lantern Lighting Festival incorporates traditions such as the Bon Odori with Minnesota culture to create new traditions. The festival is a collaborative effort between the St. Paul-Nagasaki Sister City Committee (SPNSCC), the Japan America Society of Minnesota (JASM), and Como Park. By creating a fun event for all ages, we hope to share the experience with people who fondly remember festivals in Japan, and those who wish to experience one for the first time.


Information About the Obon Tradition

Taiko drummers perform on the main festival stage.

Obon is an important Japanese cultural and family holiday, at which ancestral spirits are said to revisit their families for three days. Families pay their respects at gravesites and put out offerings of food and drink on a tray before household altars. They also light lanterns or small fires outside the house to symbolically guide the souls to the home. On the last evening of Obon, lanterns again guide the spirits back to their resting places. More information on the Obon holiday may be found here.