Thursday, August 27, 2009

Toro Nagashi

We went to Woodward Park to watch the celebration of Toro Nagashi. It's a traditional Japanese ceremony that honors the spirits of their departed loved ones (and ancestors) by floating paper lanterns down a lake/river to usher their spirits, typically after the summer Obon Odori Festival. When we were kids in Yokohama, Japan, I remembered the lanterns set afloat in a swimming pool!

The paper lanterns arranged by names of the departed

A candle is placed inside each colorful paper lantern

We arrived after 7:30pm and people were still coming

The setting summer sun casts a beautiful warm golden glow

Lauren with Sachi bear (just de-stuffed at the mall)

Here come the lanterns

Aren't they beautiful? The candles inside are lit but it's not dark enough to see their inner glow

I walked around the side of the water. Once the name of each person on the lantern is read, their loved one places the lantern in the water. It's a slow process.

A beautiful summer night and the warm breeze gently sways hanging lanterns

Rather than staring that the lady's tattoos, I looked through my viewfinder and shot. She had large tattoos all over, (chest, arms, etc), appeared to be in her 50s, and had colored strings weaved in her hair. (Lauren shot me a "Don't EVEN think about it" look. I wasn't).

These hanging paper lanterns lit the seated family and friends below them

At 8:30pm, it's dark and the lanterns are lit. Time to go. Goodnight!


  1. I love this post! Thanks for sharing such a cultural event. Everything looks beautiful. Great pictures!

  2. How cool and colorful! I don't think I've heard of this tradition but I seem to recall a Karate Kid Part 2 scene in which they floated lanterns for Miyagi's deceased girlfriend. But my memory isn't the best - I might have just made that up. :-)


Thanks for sharing your comments! -Teresa