Last night Tetsu and I had another surprise outing. Tetsu finds things of local interest in the newspaper and then we set off not really knowing what we are going to see. Last night we went up to the tourist part of Nikko for a Candle Pageant, fireworks display and light art performance.
At around 5:30 we bundled up good in down jackets, ski hats and mufflers and drove up to Nikko and into a city parking lot. It was dark when we got there and from the parking lot shuttle buses took us (and a thousand other people) to the back side of the mountains where thousands and thousands of candles were set out along the paths and open areas. There were a few booths set up selling hot noodles and sweet sake but we followed the candles up the hillside and a few minutes later the fireworks display began.
Fireworks are fireworks though even that has changed some since I was a child. There were fireworks bursting in star shapes and bear shapes and heart shapes and even a cat shape complete with whiskers. (Unfortunately you never knew when which firework was going to burst so I didn't catch a picture of the shaped fireworks.) But all were beautiful against the black, starry sky. Tetsu and I were standing just behind a thin line of trees but I thought the tree silhouette was striking in itself.
But it sure was cold!!! We were shivering and stamping our feet as we oohed and aahed over the lights in the sky!
After the fireworks the crowd gathered in front of a large stage and after many announcements that photography was not allowed and would be ineffectual anyway, the artist stepped forward and we were all plunged into darkness with no explanation. What are we going to see? Most of the people there probably had no idea. What IS light art?
It was the most amazing, mystical, beautiful performance!!! We all stood in awe of the pictures being "painted" before us, and as the artist painted the drawings would fade away, gradually disappearing softly as a new touch was given. Please check out the You-Tube video. It is worth seeing all the way to the end... The artist has been on Japanese TV and thus the talk show introduction at the beginning of the video.
Washiro Jinpei -- Light Artist
Tetsu and I weren't even sure how the artist was sketching his pictures but after checking the Internet I see that he uses a florescent canvas and a light beam... I think part of the beauty is the transiency... Within a few seconds the whole painting is gone...
A wonderful evening and Tetsu and I walked back to the parking lot (we didn't want to spoil the atmosphere with a crowded shuttle bus) holding hands.... More to keep ourselves from falling on the ice but it was a bit romantic too.