Candle Night--when Environment Sets the Trend of the New Era

Miyako Maekita

250 candles are placed on the steps of Zojoji Temple.
Tomoko Nakajima was taking a yoga pose, extending her arms gently and slowly.
The flames of the candles flittered, and I could see the night winds breathing.
"Tottemo kirei." (How beautifully she moves!)

"Turn off the lights for two hours on the night of the summer solstice." Everybody can do it simply with no cost. Candle Night has been spreading all over Japan due to careful planning from the beginning. We tried to lower the hurdles of preconceived ideas to attract participation and make it appealing to people with all types of beliefs.

There are several factors that help Candle Night reach people. The first is choosing the date of "Summer Solstice," as it turned out to be the best choice for the event. We named the overall movement and the concept "Candle Night," and that name proves to be successful. The official logo and the slogan, "Turn off the lights, and take it slow," has become common language. Lastly, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) started this event. As a result, Candle Night Summer Solstice 2003 was on the front page of major Japanese newspapers. I believe a key to the success was our ability to create an unprecedented movement and to face all of the challenges and frictions with determination. I'm just wondering to what extent people understand Candle Night.

Candle Night is a peaceful, yet quite innovative idea. It entails ideas from conventional points of view from various sectors such as NGOs, the Japanese Ministry of the Environment, press clubs, those who support both pros and cons of nuclear power generation and those involved in energy saving. We ask all of them to participate by turning off lights together, but do not ask them to change their beliefs. It is revolutionary because our policy to include all types of ideas, even conflicting ones, is consistent throughout the entire campaign. This carefully planned idea has made Candle Night attractive to everyone.

Candle Night Summer Solstice 2003, the first Candle Night, was significant to the environment both in Japan and throughout the world. It is also significant for all citizens to feel that the responsibility of society is in our hands. What I learned most was the sense of feeling that "Now is the time to change." All people realize that they want to change, and need to, but don't know how to change themselves. (This is why we are here.) However, I've learned that just a little effort can change everything.

Further efforts might be required in the future. However, the world is surely changing. Time has passed since the first Candle Night, and the reactions from people have changed. I feel like saying we are frontrunners of the age. Nobody can create the age. All of our power converges and it can send a message to people.

It is easy to say we should respect diversity. However, I'm afraid no one can see their real shape. Thinking of the earth, the environment, energy, the future and happiness leads me to think of us, human beings. (Great job everyone!)

Candle Night has been gaining momentum since then. More and more people are realizing how wonderful it is. I can't wait for the next Candle Night. I believe many people are looking forward to it. It's exciting, isn't it?

Let's make Candle Night an "incident" together!

Miyako Maekita

Messages from Promoters of Candle Night--#2

June 12, 2006