Drifting lanterns carry 700 thoughts between the waves

The drifting-lantern event held in the Atsuta-ku district

The annual summer drifting-lantern event was held on the coast near the Atsuta River estuary in Atsuta-ku in the city of Ishikari in central Hokkaido, as local residents’ thoughts of the deceased and their ancestors were conveyed. Approximately 700 lanterns glimmered in the dim light of dusk, reflecting on the surface of the sea.

The event, which was hosted by the Atsuta-ku Buddhist Association, made up of 6 temples in the area, was held on August 20th. The event originated at Koryuji Temple in 1951, and since the 100th anniversary of the former Atsuta Village in 1969, it has been held every year jointly across all Buddhist denominations.

After a memorial service was held at each temple, the lanterns were transported by truck to the beach. The candles were then lit and the lanterns were released into the sea to the sound of drums at 6:30 p.m.

Mr. Ishiyama of Sapporo City, who released five lanterns in memory of his parents and ancestors, said “I feel as if I have been freed from something that got stuck in my chest”.


Coast near the Atsuta River estuary