Dec 8, 2016
In Japan, there is a traditional ceremony called Spirit Boat Procession, held on August 15 in Nagasaki, during a 3-day Obon festival. A form of ancestor worship, it is meant to send off the souls of the dead.
When someone passes away, their loved ones build a boat to transport that person’s spirit to the after-world, usually at the first obon after their death. These boats are often decorated with the family emblems, in a way that reflects the interests of the deceased. You can see many different sizes – the small ones are usually meant for children, or even pets!
In the past, these boats were released into the river, but today, a more environmentally friendly version means they are pulled around the town, with lots of firecrakers being let off. Yes, to some cultures this may be unusual, but the event isn’t just solemn; it is also an opportunity to celebrate the person’s life and worship him. The noise is also supposed to ward off evil and welcome good luck. Finally, at the end of the parade, however fancy and elaborate the boats are, they will all be destroyed.
Why not plan to visit during the Obon in Nagasaki; chances are, you will never see anything else like it. Watch a video
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