Kawashiri O-bon Festival
Yesterday marked the end of O-bon, a time when Japanese families traditionally honour the souls of those who have passed away.
It is believed that during O-bon the spirits of deceased ancestors return to the family. On the last day of O-bon, many Toro Nagashi festivals are held around Japan. The floating lantern, released onto the river, symbolises the deceased spirit being released and carried off by the river to the ocean.
It’s difficult to explain (particularly in conjunction with such a poor photo) how emotional it is to sit on the riverbank with a couple of thousand other people, in an almost awed silence, watching these flickering lights drift away.
And to round of festivities, as with all Japanese summer festivals, we all settled in for the grand firework display.