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Celebrate Marine Day at Odaiba Lantern Festival (16-17 July 2023)

Celebrate Marine Day at Odaiba Lantern Festival (16-17 July 2023)

Happy Marine Day! While the rest of the world wakes up to yet another Monday morning, Japan celebrates a national holiday called Marine Day, also known as "Umi no Hi" (海の日). Observed on every third Monday of July, Marine Day is the next long-weekend holiday that people often look forward to after Golden Week in May. 

 

What is Marine Day?

Miyako Island in Okinawa. (Image credit: 安西成文 / Pakutaso)

 

But what is Marine Day? It’s a day that celebrates, recognises, and appreciates Japan’s ocean and maritime activities. Unlike other traditional festivals and holidays that are often associated with specific shrines or temples, Marine Day itself does not have dedicated shrines or religious ceremonies and is a relatively modern holiday established in 1996. Instead, people head to the beach or coastal parks for a fun day out in the sun!

 

 

(Image credit: Sue Lynn / JR Times)

 

While there are plenty of pretty beaches to visit around Japan, many folks in Tokyo head down to Tokyo Bay’s Odaiba for a special celebration: The Odaiba Sea Day Lantern Festival (海の灯まつり in お台場 Umi no Hi Matsuri in Odaiba).

 

Odaiba Sea Day Lantern Festival

Odaiba Lantern Festival 19 Large

(Image credit: Sue Lynn / JR Times)

 

The Sea Day Lantern Festival in Odaiba is a 2-day affair that takes place on the Marine Day weekend. As a cherished tradition that has been around for almost 20 years since 2014, thousands of candles in colourful paper lanterns are lit on the sandy Odaiba Beach (お台場ビーチ) of Odaiba Seaside Park (お台場海浜公園 Odaiba Kaihin Kōen) to pray for safety at sea. 

 

(Image credit: Sue Lynn / JR Times)

 

This year, the event is held on 16–17 July (Sunday–Monday) with the theme “Enjoying the Seasons of Japan” and about 10,000 candles being lit up. From 1pm, volunteers and executive committee members of the festival start to map out and install the lanterns on the beach while festival-goers—couples, families, and pets!—lay out their picnic mats and camping chairs. From grilled seafood and soft serve to live performances and music, there’s plenty to do under the sun at Odaiba Beach.

 

(Image credit: Sue Lynn / JR Times)

 

The highlight of the festival is undoubtedly when the volunteers and executive committee light up the lanterns one by one at 6:30pm. At near sight of the beautiful spectacle of lit lanterns are the illuminated Rainbow Bridge (レインボーブリッジ) and cruising nightferries at Tokyo Bay. Apart from being an Instagrammable occasion, the fact that it is supported by a group of volunteers adds a more meaningful and heartwarming note to it. 

 

The Odaiba Sea Day Lantern Festival (海の灯まつり in お台場)
Dates: Every 2nd Sunday & 3rd Monday of July (16–17 July in 2023)
Address: 1-4 Daiba, Minato-ku, Tokyo 135-0091
Nearest station(s): Odaiba-kaihinkōen Station
Access: 5-minute walk from Odaiba-kaihinkōen Station
Admission fee: Free

 

The Odaiba Sea Day Lantern Festival is just one of the many activities in store in Japan on Marine Day. Visit the pristine beaches of Okinawa or Wakayama if you embrace the sun, or simply avoid it by checking out Japan’s many world-famous aquariums like Enoshima Aquarium. Not in Japan in time for Marine Day? Check out JAPAN RAIL CLUB's "Taste of the Sea" Omiyage Box for discover a world of marine-inspired flavours. Just remember to stay hydrated, reapply your sunscreen, and have a sea-sational Marine Day!

 

Header image credit: Sue Lynn / JR Times

 

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