Kids often find pleasure in the little things, and as we grow older we forget why those things meant so much. I remember begging my parents to let me stay up late during the summer so I could run around outside and try to catch fireflies in a jar with holes poked in the top. Fireflies seemed like such magical things during those times that my childish mind couldn’t register the fact that they were insects. They were little sparks of light in the night that made the darkness less forbidding.

Courtesy of  Panasonic

Inspired by the fireflies that no longer occupy the Sumida River and the Japanese tradition of floating candles on the water to honor ancestors, Panasonic released 100,000 LED lights to start the Tokyo Hotaru (firefly) festival. This festival is part of Tokyo’s “Sumida River Renaissance” initiative and by making the LED lights ride the current of the river it reminds the audience of what they have lost due to the conditions of the river today. In this instance the lights were dubbed “prayer stars” and as they floated appeared to reflect a simplified version of the Milky Way that people could reach out and touch.

Courtesy of  Panasonic

The LED’s themselves were designed as balls that would light up once they contacted the water. They were also 100% powered by solar energy and after illuminating a large stretch of the river were caught in a large net. This display shows that simple acts, with multiple levels of meaningful symbology can be just as beautiful and impactful as large explosive gestures. Each floating LED light represented something different to the people watching them float down the river, bringing back magic into the city.

Courtesy of  Panasonic

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