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Tokyo's Solar-Powered 'Fireflies'

The city's Hotaru festival uses LED bulbs designed to mimic the light of the insects that once “gemmed” the Sumida River. 

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Tokyo Hotaru Festival

Summer fireworks at the Sumida River has long been a Tokyo event with crowds gathering on the banks of the river for a spectacular light and sound show. The first Tokyo Hotaru festival kicked off last week that gave the tradition a technological twist, recreating the skybound bursts of flame and sparks using 100,000 LED lights that bobbed down the riverside. The LED bulbs, called “prayer stars”, were designed to mimic the light of the hotaru (“fireflies”) believed to have once “gemmed” the Sumida. Manufactured by Panasonic, the lights ran completely on solar power, and nets were set in place to collect them for reuse for future events.

The lights floated by the equally luminous Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest tower that’s set to open within the end of the month. The festival organizers hope that the “Hotaru” would help catalyze a “renaissance” of the Sumida River, which endeavors to preserve and clean green space adjacent to the water that will foster increased activity in the area.

Top image courtesy Tokyo Hotaru Festival

This post originally appeared on Architizer, an Atlantic partner site.

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