Candle Festival Lighting Ceremony
The official ceremony began with a “Welcome to Country” greeting by local Ngunnawal emerging elder, Mr Richie Allan, followed by a performance of didgeridoo and clapsticks. After speeches from Ambassador Takahashi, Mrs Narelle Hargreaves OAM, the Chair of Canberra Nara Sister City Committee, Mr Brendan Smyth, Commissioner for International Engagement, Mr Michael Rabey, Rotary Club Peace Bell co-ordinator, and a video message from the Mayor of Nara city, Mr Gen Nakagawa, the symbolic candle was lit by the Ambassador and Mrs Hargreaves to mark the 27th year of the sister city relationship between Canberra and Nara.
The garden was decorated with 1200 candles and special lighting shone over the tranquil garden setting. With this magical backdrop, the ceremony concluded with Dr Riley Lee’s shakuhachi performance. The scenes of the lighting ceremony were professionally recorded on the resulting video can be viewed on the Candle Festival 2020 official website by the ACT government. This was the first time that the Candle Festival was presented online, and its content has been enhanced with a campaign called “Itadakimasu”, promoting local Japanese restaurants and eateries, craft ideas, and various Japan related businesses in Canberra. In addition, useful information by the Japan National Travel Organisation (JNTO) and the Council for Local Authorities for International Relations (CLAIR, Sydney) are now available on the same website to promote not only Japanese culture and tourism but also a deeper understanding of Japan in Australia.