Festival for the dead

Photo by Mark Buckton of the Nagataro Funadama Festival

The Nagatoro Funadama Festival was held on the Arakawa River in Saitama Prefecture this week, reports Japan Today.  It is a traditional event staged in Nagatoro, a town famous for whitewater boating, and the origin lies in requesting that the gods of water protect the boatmen.

Photo from Metropolis magazine

After dark, boats decorated with paper lanterns and about 1,000 individual lanterns are floated on the waters of the Arakawa River to pray for the repose of drowned persons, creating an otherworldly atmosphere.

Part of the festival features fireworks, as can be seen on a youtube video here.  Held annually in the Chichibu area of Japan in Saitama, the Nagatoro Fireworks festival is held right beside the river, preceded by sending off a boat lit up with lights. The festival takes place during Obon, to honor the spirits of the dead that visit the realm of the living during this period.

Lanterns floating towards to the sea; boats floating to another world; the spirit of drowned souls seeking repose.  In the heat of midsummer thoughts turn to water and what lies beyond on the far side.


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Festival for the dead — 1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Exploring the River of the Dead, and Rivers of Death-and-Disease ideas and the origins of river expulsion practices | Heritage of Japan

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