Light has never been
so heavy, companionship
never so weightless.
It started with one man, with one lantern, in one fishing town, somewhere in Japanese history. But the spirit of human competitiveness has changed things. A simple light in the dark can now stand over ten metres tall, weigh two tons and take a hundred men to carry it.
The Issaki Hoh-toh Matsuri festival is one of many lantern festivals in the Noto Peninusula. It’s quite alarming to be a spectator when one of these giant night lights swings towards you. Six lanterns move around a small village, each carried by a hundred sweating, grunting, chanting locals, while men dressed in kimonos sit aloft playing pipes and drums. It’s no mean feat to park all these tottering towers in a village square the size of a postage stamp. But somehow they manage.