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History & Culture

Lantern Floating of Ancestral Ceremonies Disappear in Aging Rural Areas  地方の高齢化とともに無くなる先祖供養の灯篭流し

K.Yamauchi

夏の間、日本各地では先祖供養として灯篭流しが行われる。

「灯篭流し」は、死者の魂を弔(とむら)い、火を入れた灯篭を川に流すお盆の送り火の一種。青森市内の成田山青森寺では毎年、近くの堤川で灯篭流しがおこなわれてきた。供養される人と供養する人の名前と住所を書き、社務所に提出し、灯篭を流してもらう。

During the summer, lanterns are flown as an ancestral memorial service in various parts of Japan.”Lantern Floating” is a type of ceremonial bonfire of lantern festivals which is to mourn the soul of dead and lits a fire in a lantern then float it in river. Every year in Aomori city, Lantern Floating festival has been held in the nearby Tsutsumi River by Naritasan Aomori Temple.Write names and addresses of both who are to be supported and who to support, and submit them to the temple office, then have the lantern flow out.

大護摩供の読経が上げられ、線香が焚かれ、先祖の霊に手を合わせる。それが終わると、川面に待機する船から灯篭が流される。皆、先祖への想いを胸に灯篭が無事流れていくのを見守る。しかし、この光景も今年限りとなった。
理由は、二つ。
高齢化で先祖供養の灯篭を流す人が減ったことと、小舟から灯篭を流してくれる船舶免許を持ったボランティアの人たちが高齢化し、安全性に懸念が出てきたこと。

Buddhist sutra is chanted, incense sticks are burned, and hands are holded together for the spirits of the ancestors.When that is over, lanterns are shed from the ship waiting on the river.We all watch the lantern flowing smoothly while thinking of our ancestors.However, this scene has been limited to this year.
There are two reasons.The fact that the number of people, who are willing to afloat the lanterns of the ancestors, are decreased due to under the aging population. And some concerns of the safety are raised because of those with the ship license who volunteered to shed the lanterns from small boats became aged.


photo  Takaaki Tsuchiya (撮影 2014 土屋 隆昭氏)

成田山青森寺によれば先祖供養のため灯篭を流す人は、10年前から段々と減少し、今では、最盛期の半分になったという。青森県が発表した7月1日現在の県推計人口は、126万4956人。青森県の高齢化率(総人口に占める65歳以上の割合)は30.47%。(2017年2月1日現在)青森の高齢化は、年々確実に進んでいる。高齢化社会の影響は、身近な伝統行事にも。古き良き伝統が無くなり、「昔は・・」と語らなくてはならなくなる日が来た。
According to Naritasan Aomori Temple, the number of people who flow lanterns for their ancestors has gradually decreased since 10 years ago. And now it is a half of the peak. As of July 1st, Aomori Prefecture announced the prefecture estimate population was 1,264,956.
The aging rate in Aomori Prefecture (proportion of 65 years old or more to the total population) is 30.47%.(As of February 1, 2017)
The aging of Aomori is progressing steadily year by year. The influence of aging society also influences familiar traditional events.
The good old traditions are disappeared and the day has come to have to tell as the stories of old days.

来年、日本では、皇位継承とともに元号が変わる。
「平成」最後の灯篭流しとなった。
水面を流れる灯篭がいつになく揺らいでいる。
Next year, in Japan, the era name will be changed by the succession to the throne.
It became the last lantern ceremony of “Heisei”.The lantern flowing on the surface of the water is shaking more than ever.

photo Takaaki Tsuchiya(撮影 2014 土屋」隆昭氏)

 

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