Gallery: Shinnyo-en Lantern Floating

Lantern Floating Hawaii 2015

Every Memorial Day, the Shinnyo-en Buddhist sect stages one of the largest and most visually stunning public tributes to the dead. This year was the 16th annual Lantern Floating Hawaii ceremony, a unique merging of an American day of remembrance for fallen military members and the Japanese tradition of tōrō nagashi.

More than 40,000 people gathered at Ala Moana Beach Park, and for the first time in a few years, my daughter Katie and I were among them.

We decided to make the pilgrimage to honor my father in law, Edward J. Eno, who passed away in March. And it gave us the opportunity to memorialize other late family members (including my cousin Deborah Kayatani, whose funeral was held in December), as well as family members of my coworkers and Katie’s friends.

It was a long, hot day on a very crowded beach, and certainly, it’s sometimes hard to find inner peace when it’s hard to find parking, or when the sixth or seventh person kicks sand on you. But despite all the noise and other distractions, at some point you forget about everything around you, you become part of something bigger, and it’s suddenly not hard to be moved by the ceremony. Thousands of people, plus thousands more watching live around the world, united in a singular “moment of remembrance, reflection, and offering gratitude to those who have gone before us.”

Here are some highlights from my gallery of photos from today’s ceremony, and below, a quick video I put together:

Lantern Floating Hawaii 2015

Lantern Floating Hawaii 2015

Lantern Floating Hawaii 2015

Lantern Floating Hawaii 2015

Lantern Floating Hawaii 2015

Lantern Floating Hawaii 2015

Lantern Floating Hawaii 2015

Lantern Floating Hawaii 2015

Lantern Floating Hawaii 2015

And here’s my video (or at least it will be here when it’s finished uploading). I end it with some aerial footage captured at last year’s event:

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4 Responses

  1. Joe Gibbs says:

    Ryan,

    I am curious what happens to the floating lanterns, do they go out to sea or are they collected and reused?

    Thx
    joe

  2. Ryan Ozawa says:

    They are absolutely collected and recycled. The extra long plastic rudder built into the design (which also uses a kind of sturdy foam, not wood) is designed to catch on lines that are set up at the periphery of the bay, which helps organizers collect them.

  3. Gem says:

    So beautiful! I definitely want to try and attend next year.

  1. July 5, 2015

    […] inclusive, family-friendly neighborhood festivals that celebrate Japanese culture. (There are also lantern floating ceremonies., usually at the end of obon season.) But in the days before temples come alive with dancing, […]

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