Aug 22, 2018 Culture Hiroshima City

Hiroshima Peace Lantern Floating “Toro Nagashi” Report in 2018

#Activity&Experience ,#Culture ,#Event ,#Event2018 ,#Kids ,#Peace ,#Photogenic ,#Summer ,#Tradition

A Toro Nagashi, lantern floating is held every year at Motoyasu River in Naka-ku, Hiroshima city in remembrance of the dropping of the A-bomb in Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945. It’s an established custom held to mourn the souls of the people who lost their lives due to the A-bomb. This event bustles with many participants every year. People who pray for peace gather here, not only from Hiroshima, but from all over Japan and around the world. Here, I’ll report on how to participate in lantern floating, the crowding situation, and what it’s like to take part in the event!

What is Toro Lantern?

A Toro is one of Japan’s traditional pieces of lighting equipment. It’s covered with a wooden frame and paper so that the lit flame won’t be blown out in the wind.

What is a Toro Nagashi, Lantern Floating?

Lantern floating is a type of “okuribi” (ceremonial lantern), which is one of the customs of Obon . In Japan,a for few days around August 15th, Obon is celebrated. Obon that is annual Buddhist event, and it is believed that during Obon, the ancester’s spritits return to this world in order to visit their relatives. The Obon period is a time to remember those who have passed away by visiting their graves and gathering with family. “Okuribi” is an event held to return the souls of those who have come back to this world during Obon to the world of the dead once again.

The lantern floating event held in Hiroshima on August 6th is mainly meant to mourn the souls of the victims of the A-bomb. It’s an event held to never forget those whose lives were taken by the A-bomb, and to pray for peace in the future.

Let’s Participate in Lantern Floating!

From here I will report on what it was like to actually participate in the lantern floating!

Time of Lantern Floating

You can start floating lanterns inMotoyasu River between 6:00 and 9:00p.m. It gets crowded with many people every year, so on this day I visited peace park early at around 4:30p.m.

Buying Lanterns at Reception Tento

The lantern needed for lantern floating costs ¥600. They are sold from 6:00am to 8:30pm. (Sales may end early if supplies run out). The reception tento are on either side of theMotoyasu River. There are two spots on the west side, and one spot on the east side, so I was able to easily make my purchase.

After paying ¥600 at the reception tento, I was given lantern floating instructions and special colored paper for writing a message. This colored paper is set and used with the lantern.

The special paper comes in many different colors, so if you have a preferred color you can receive it if you ask.
As for the wooden frame of the lantern, the staff will set it up for you right before you float it down the River, so you don’t receive it here. You can write your message in the space behind the tento. Let’s writing anything you’d like, such as the thoughts of peace you hold in your heart, or a message for those who have passed away.

Down to the River Bank

After you finish writing the message, you head down to the River bank and at last begin lantern floating.
There are many people who participate in lantern floating after the sun sets. The peak of the line for the gate is between 7:30pm and 8:00pm, and it can sometimes take 30 minutes or more. I lined up at 6:30pm, and was able to reach the gate entrance in about 10 minutes and head down to the river bank, so I’d recommend lining up early to those who don’t want to wait in line.

Arriving at the River Bank to Light the Lantern

Once you pass through the gate, you can at last take part in lantern floating. You hand your paper to a staff member, and they will set up your lantern for you.

They set the paper on a wooden frame, then light a candle at its center. Next, you go down near the River, and gently float the lantern on the water’s surface.

People put their hands together and say, “may peace spread throughout the world,” and send off the lantern.Seeing that, you can feel anew that many people pray for peace in their hearts.

Beautiful Time to See Lanterns in the Dark Night

If you want to participate in lantern floating after the sun sets, I recommend going after 7:00 pm, after sunset.The sun sets around 7:00 in the evening, and it becomes fully dark from 7:30.

Here’s what it looks like around sunset time, at 7:08. There’s still some brightness, but the light of the lanterns have become more vibrant.

At 8:00pm, it’s completely dark, and the lanterns flowing down the River shine beautifully.

The Hope for Peace from Hiroshima to the World

By participating in lantern floating, I became highly aware of the feelings I hold toward peace in my heart. At the same time, it was a warming sensation to know that so many people hold the same kind of feelings and take part in lantern floating. An event for peace that is symbolic of Hiroshima. I hope many people will continue to participate in the future.

Event Information

Peace Message Lantern Floating
Address Motoyasu River (map)
*Near the A-bomb Dome
Closest Station 5mins walk from Genbaku Dome-mae
Date Every August 6th
Time Selling lanterns at Reception Tent: 6:00am-8:30pm
Lantern Floating Reception: 6:00pm-9:00pm
Website Official Website
Cost ¥600/lantern


Learn More about Lantern Floating 2019:
“Toro Nagashi”, Sending a Message of Peace From Hiroshima to the World