An Obon Voyage

Fire can be a force of creation or destruction, and the ever-popular Bon Festival at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens explores both sides of the element. Though the multifaceted event includes a range of activities -- like taiko drumming, Japanese folk dancing, a beer garden, food vendors, and a small market -- the most popular aspect is the toro nagashi. This portion of the evening transforms Morikami Lake into a sea of sparkling lights as the waters fill with tiny floating lanterns, which visitors can purchase to honor deceased loved ones. The Japanese say the lanterns are helpful in illuminating a path between the world of the living and the otherworld: an important aspect of the traditional obon festival. No matter your spiritual inklings, it's a sight to behold and romantic as all hell. The festival is 4 to 9 p.m. Saturday at Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens, located at 4000 Morikami Park Road in Delray Beach. Tickets cost $15 for adults and $6 for kids and must be purchased online by Friday. Based on huge crowds last year, no ticket sales will be available at the gate. The event is free to museum members and kids age 3 and younger. Call 561-495-0233, or visit
Sat., Aug. 18, 4-9 p.m., 2012
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Tricia Woolfenden