We were lucky enough to catch the Japanese Kanto Lantern performance last night outside Central at Clarke Quay. We were amazed at the skill of the performers as they balanced the Kanto (45 lanterns hung on a huge bamboo frame) without gripping the poles, placing them on the palms of their hands, raising them higher above their heads and then balancing these heavy bamboo poles on their foreheads, shoulders and lower backs. The large Kanto can weigh up to 50kgs. All this is accompanied by the lovely sound of the Japanese flute and the huge drums that never stop beating.
This performance actually comes from the Akita Kanto Festival in Japan. Akito City is in the northeastern region of Japan, and every August they hold this festival to ask for an abundant grain harvest. It has become a symbol of Akita, a leading rice-growing area and during the festival, 1.3 million
people throng the city streets. Last night there were no more than 10 Kantos being balanced, but in Akita there can be more than 200, with thousands of performers.
Its was definitely a festive mood last night down at Central. The Lanterns along the promenade depicting Chinese Opera characters and Chinese Zodiac animals as well as the floating lanterns on the river are all very pretty and definitely worth a look. With all the blue fairy lights in the trees, the river area is transformed into a magical fantasy world.
Each evening until the 14th September there will be different performances and exhibits, including calligraphy displays, Chinese painting, mass line dancing and a children's lantern parade.
Mid Autumn Festival by the River
River Promenade (beside Central)
Until 14 September, 2008