Take To-Ro: Bridge of Lights Special Exhibition

Celebrating the Traditional Japanese Obon Holiday

Presented by JICC, Embassy of Japan in collaboration with the Baltimore Kawasaki Sister City Committee

Come celebrate the Obon holiday, a time when Japanese families come together and often reflect on natural beauty and peaceful surroundings, with a special installation of the sculpture Take To-Ro: Bridge of Lights in the glass entrance to JICC for two weeks in August!

Take To-Ro is a sculptural piece that uses fresh bamboo, softly lit inside with flickering LED lighting, to evoke the traditional bamboo lanterns used in Japan during festival periods. The use of lanterns during the Obon season is to light the way for deceased ancestors to return to their homes and revisit with members of the family lineage who have come together to celebrate. This sculpture takes the traditions of Japan and recreates them in a contemporary fashion.

At the beginning of 2016, the Baltimore Kawasaki Sister City Committee embarked on a project to fabricate a large multi-section public sculpture for a new city-wide festival called Light City Baltimore. The Committee brought together a wide range of local Baltimorean community partners to produce this installation as a representation of the cultural hope that Japan can offer to cities in America. The creation of the outdoor lanterns was meant to represent the honoring of those in the community who have come before, and a promise for future unity and healing. We offer the same sort of experience to viewers in Washington DC who come to see a smaller version of the Take To-Ro artwork and feel the tranquil effect that emanates outward on a summer’s evening.

The two metal bases in this sculpture are curved in a graceful arc, meant to symbolize a wave-like pattern. Each bamboo trunk, or culm, is lit from within, and periodically the lights dim and brighten to create a rippling motion, brightening and shadowing. The forms of these sculptures are inspired by the stylized waves found in Japanese paintings and, on a deeper level, represent the water basis of friendship between the two port cities of Kawasaki and Baltimore, cities that are foundational to the Baltimore Kawasaki Sister City Committee.


Take To-Ro: Bridge of Lights received its inaugural installation at the 2016 Light City Baltimore festival. This artwork was designed by Baltimore designer Jessica Searfino and produced by the Baltimore Kawasaki Sister City Committee together with local Baltimore fabricators in metal and lighting. The BKSCC promotes cultural projects which introduce Japan, and specifically the city of Kawasaki, to people in the mid-Atlantic region, focusing on areas of art, customs, traditions, and participant exchanges, in order to help promote wider cultural understanding.

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