During the Obon festival, lanterns are released into the river as a part of the ceremonial bonfire event called “tourou nagashi” in my hometown.
Lit lanterns are carefully floated on the water, and the warm light in the dark creates a magical, beautiful scenery, sending people’s thoughts towards the deceased.
This Spirit Boat Procession is done in various regions around the nation, however, in Nagasaki, people build hand-made boats and walk around the city pulling the boat to show grievance to the spirits and to send the spirits off into the other world.
A famous song by Sada Masashi about Spirit Boat Procession portrays the ceremony as something quiet and peaceful; however, you may be surprised by the loud explosive sounds of firecrackers in the actual event.
The liveliness of the festival does not mean that the sorrow is shallow.
The depths of people’s sorrow cannot be measured and every person shows different signs of mourning.
The preparation for this festival takes place a month before the ceremony, where families and relatives gather to build the boat and to take some time thinking about the deceased.