The Nara Candle Festival was held on Saturday, 27th of October 2012. A warm spring day prevailed, not a cloud in the sky and it seemed like most of Canberra had arrived at Lake Burley Griffin to enjoy the perfect afternoon.
On arrival, we were thrilled to see the food and drink tents already in operation. We treated ourselves to a Tsunami, a refreshing lychee flavoured sake cocktail. Sipping our drink in the sun, we browsed the various stalls which showed everything from Bonsai plants and flower arrangements to Japanese calligraphy. The Japanese embassy provided tourist information while other stalls sold Kimono's, Japanese prints, jewelry and accessories.
We sprawled out on a patch of green grass to watch demonstrations of the traditional Japanese arts of Karate, Kendo and Hapkido. While the kids performed well and were very cute in their little uniforms, the shouts and cries of the adults performing Hapkido moves were almost frightening! It was thrilling to see these martial arts performed up close and the crowd cheered on the fighters heartedly.
As the sun set, we fought the crowd for a table under the pine trees. Various styles of Japanese cuisine on offer were clearly popular, as indicated by long waiting lines for almost every stall. However, in true Japanese fashion, the workers were polite and efficient and waiting times were not very long in the end. Takoyaki was my immediate favourite, the hot little balls of fried octopus being served with fish flakes, mayonnaise and a sweet sticky sauce. Other notable mentions were the Teriyaki skewers, yellow curry and Okonomiyaki.
Dining under the stars, the trees slowly lit up with red, yellow and orange lights to create a fabulous festive atmosphere. Japanese music and singing could also be heard throughout the night, adding a wonderfully lively and cheerful mood.
At last, night fell and hundreds of yellow candles lit up the garden. Candles were placed en masse to completely cover the lawns, monuments and stone river bed. The crowd flocked to watch and admire the glow of the candles and to pose with loved ones for multiple photo opportunities.
All too soon the music fell and the crowd gradually dispersed. All that was left for the remaining few was to eagerly anticipate next year's festival which will, no doubt, be just as impressive.
For further information about the Nara Candle Festival, see: EventsACT