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




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.


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)

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.

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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