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Lantern Floating


Lanterns – $12 each

Lanterns for the toro nagashi (lantern floating) ceremony go on sale at the start of Lantern Festival. Each of more than 1,000 lanterns is hand-assembled by Morikami volunteers and staff the day of the festival. Limited quantities are available and cannot be purchased in advance, please note – we cannot allow guests to bring and float their own lanterns. Lanterns sell out each and every year, so be sure to purchase yours early!

About Toro Nagashi

Obon is one of the most important holidays in Japanese culture, and is a time of year when families welcome the spirits of the ancestors into their homes for a brief visit among their living descendants. On the last day of the three-day observance, families gather with the community to light the way back to the otherworld for the departing ancestors with floating lanterns called toro nagashi, or with large fires lit on the slopes of nearby mountains since the otherworld is traditionally regarded as lying beyond the sea or mountains. The ancestors are believed to depart for the otherworld guided by the illuminated lanterns and farewell fires. Each year Morikami celebrates Lantern Festival: In the Spirit of Obon with over 1,000 handmade toro nagashi, each one with bearing inscription from our guests.

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Tanzaku Slips – $1 each

Tanzaku slips adorn our shoryobune, meaning “boat for the spirits of the deceased.” The shoryobune is hand-crafted and decorated out of straw, wood and paper. During the lantern floating ceremony, the shoryobune is filled with tanzaku slips collected from visitors. Like our floating lanterns, the shoryobune flames symbolically guide the visiting spirits back to the otherworld.

About Tanzaku Slips and the Shoryobune

A shoryobune is a traditional, boat-shaped “lantern” made of straw, wood and paper. They are usually set ablaze, which is why they are thought of as lanterns, although they are often festooned with hanging paper lanterns as well. Shoryobune means boat for the spirits of the deceased. In George Morikami’s hometown of Miyazu, shoryobune are festooned with decorations of colorful paper bunting in addition to paper lanterns. The boats usually have a sail with an inscription down the middle reading, “Gokuraku-Maru”. Gokuraku refers to the paradise that is the otherworld, while maru is a common suffix for the names of ships in Japan. Families who have experienced deaths in the past year may float these elaborately decorated boats to transport their recently deceased to the other side for the first time. At Lantern Festival: In the Spirit of Obon, our shoryoubune is filled with tanzaku slips from our guests. These slips are inscribed with messages, and become part of the guiding light of the shoryobune.