Spiritual festivals in Hiroshima and Nagasaki

Festivals play an important role in the cultural life of people in the two cities that suffered from the atomic bomb.

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Although not sharing a starting point, the funeral ceremonies in the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki are aimed at commemorating the origin and gratitude to the deceased. Shoro Nagashi and Toro Nagashi are two festivals where visitors can feel the sacred harmony between life and death in Japan.

Shoro Nagashi - Nagasaki city


Held on August 15 every year, Shoro Nagashi is like the Yulanpen Festival in Nagasaki City. The event is held at the end of the traditional Japanese Obon festival. On this day, families will see off the souls of their ancestors and the deceased.
Shoro Nagashi - Nagasaki city
The light boat is the featured image at Shoro Nagashi festival. Photo: Japonismo.
People in Nagasaki will write the name of the deceased on the soul boat. The boat symbolizes reunion with the family, decorated with lanterns and flowers marching through the streets, then out to the place to drop souls at the coast or train stations. However, the festival of releasing ships to the sea was banned by the city government of Nagasaki in 1871 due to concerns about environmental issues. The ritual of releasing a boat is now a symbolic form.

Toro Nagashi - Hiroshima city

The festival was first held in 1946 to commemorate the victims of the atomic bomb disaster. Initially, the festival was just a lantern release and the names of those who lost in the atomic bomb disaster. Later the festival became an important part of the cultural life of Hiroshima City.

The event is held on August 6 every year. From the morning until the end of the noon, it is the time of sacrificing the spirits of the dead in the disaster. From noon to afternoon is the time when Hiroshima's people celebrate that the city has really transformed.
Toro Nagashi
Toro Nagashi comes from the memory of the deceased after the atomic bomb disaster. Photo: Visit Hiroshima.
At night, the festival has more activities to drop lanterns. People will gather at Motoyasu Bridge and Hiroshima Peace Memorial to release lanterns. Each year, more than 10 thousand lanterns are released on 6 rivers of the city. Not only naming the dead, but visitors here can also write a wish for peace and mingling with the indigenous people in the solemn festival atmosphere.

In addition to the 2 Toro Nagashi and Shoro Nagashi festivals, visitors can participate in the Obon Odori festival that takes place from August 13 to 15 every year in Japanese cities, or the lantern festivals with colorful shimmering

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