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Inaugural Toro Nagashi Lantern Ceremony Celebrates 2023 Parliament Convening

May 19, 2023

Image Source: Japanese Art Foundation

The Japanese Art Foundation is proud to welcome 2023 Parliament of the World’s Religions attendees to the inaugural Toro Nagashi lantern ceremony, in Jackson Park’s Garden of the Phoenix. We hope to invite you to join us in this meaningful ceremony to process loss or “the loss of our loved ones” and “to strengthen” or thereby strengthen our bonds as a community.

When: Wednesday, August 16h  from 7:00 pm – 10:00 pm

Where: Garden of the Phoenix, Jackson Park (6300 S Cornell Ave, Chicago, IL 60637)

This year’s ceremony is held in partnership with the Japanese Culture Center, Chicago Park District, the Parliament of the World Religions, and Asian Improv Arts Midwest.

About Toro Nagashi:

The ceremony of Toro Nagashi (literally, “floating lanterns”) is a Buddhist tradition held to celebrate the end of Obon season. Toro Nagashi can be a smaller family affair to remember lost family members or a much bigger event to memorialize those who have been lost to natural disasters, war, and other causes. Toro Nagashi officially begins at the moment the ancestors commence their return to the spirit world. Communities come together to guide the spirits down to the sea using traditional candle-lit lanterns (toro). The Toro Nagashi ceremony sends off a spirit to the other world, with the lanterns visually representing the spirit’s send-off to the other world.

Lanterns will be floated in the waters of the Garden of the Phoenix pond, and can be placed throughout the garden, Yoko Ono’s SKYLANDING, and along the Columbia River Basin as guests choose. Traditional music provided by Asian Improv Arts Midwest will comfort guests throughout the evening as interfaith leaders will say a few words in honor of those lost in their own tradition. 

Among the speakers:

Consulate-General of Japan Chicago

Peace Ambassadors to Hiroshima: 

  • Rev. Dr. T. Kenjitsu Nakagaki
  • Dr. Yuki Miyamoto, Director of Humanities DePaul University

*More to be added

*Those who reserve a lantern will have the opportunity to decorate and craft their lantern into any design they wish on-site from 7:00-8:00 pm with the community. Available lanterns are limited, please reserve yours in advance. 

**We expect this event to be well attended and visitors will be welcomed on a first come first served basis. 

Land Acknowledgment

The Parliament of the World's Religions acknowledges it is situated on the traditional homelands of the Bodéwadmik (Potawatomi), Hoocąk (Winnebago/Ho’Chunk), Jiwere (Otoe), Nutachi (Missouria), and Baxoje (Iowas); Kiash Matchitiwuk (Menominee); Meshkwahkîha (Meskwaki); Asâkîwaki (Sauk); Myaamiaki (Miami), Waayaahtanwaki (Wea), and Peeyankihšiaki (Piankashaw); Kiikaapoi (Kickapoo); Inoka (Illini Confederacy); Anishinaabeg (Ojibwe), and Odawak (Odawa).

PoWR recognizes the region we now call Chicago remains home to a diversity of Indigenous peoples today and this land upon which we walk, live, and play continues to be Indigenous land.

© Parliament of the World’s Religions 

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