Enjoy Japanese folk-dancing, drumming, the Ennichi street fair and the iconic lantern floating ceremony at a fall festival in the spirit of Obon at the Morikami Museum and Gardens. An Obon is Japan’s summer homage to ancestors who return for a brief visit to the living. The festival has become as big as the Morikami can accommodate without damaging the property and so access is limited. Tickets will sell out in advance and none will be available at the door.
There are two ways to participate in the ceremonies that will take place at the Obon and Lantern Festival. First, lantern sleeves for the Toro Nagashi (lantern floating) ceremony go on sale at the start of the Lantern Festival. Each of the almost 1,000 lanterns is hand-assembled by Morikami volunteers and staff the day of the festival. Buy your lanterns the minute you arrive as they will sell out! Second, tanzaku slips adorn the shoryobune, meaning “boat for the spirits of the deceased.” The shoryobune is hand-crafted and decorated out of straw, wood and paper. During the lantern floating ceremony, the shoryobune is filled with tanzaku slips collected from visitors. Like the floating lanterns, the shoryobune flames symbolically guide the visiting spirits back to the otherworld.
Since its opening in 1977, The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens has been a center for Japanese arts and culture in South Florida. The Morikami Museum Collection houses Japanese art objects and artifacts, including a 500-piece collection of tea ceremony items, more than 200 textile pieces and recent fine art acquisitions. The 200 acres that surround The Morikami’s two museum buildings include expansive Japanese gardens with strolling paths, resting areas, tropical bonsai collection, small lakes teeming with koi and other wildlife, nature trails, pine forests and park and picnic areas. The Morikami's gardens reflect major periods of Japanese garden design, from the eighth to the 20th century, and serve as an outdoor extension of the museum. The Morikami Gardens consist of shinden islands, paradise garden and contemporary garden. According to the garden designer, Hoichi Kurisu, each garden is intended to express the character and ideas of a unique counterpart in Japan without attempting to duplicate those gardens, and seamlessly flow together as one garden.
There is nothing else like the Morikami in Florida. The 200 acres have grown into an oasis in the middle of a dense urban area that transports visitors to a completely different place. Florida's palm trees and familiar flora are replaced with pine forests and traditional Japanese plants. The panorama's and sunsets appear to be from a far away world.
You can find out more about the museum and gardens on Mark's List here: Obon & Lantern Festival at Morikami Museum