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長崎 精霊流し Nagasaki Syourounagasi Nagasaki Shourounagashi

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Shourounagashi (Floating Lanterns for the Souls of the Departed) is a traditional event held in Nagasaki during the Bon Festival (annual Buddhist event commemorating ancestors, July 15th). It is held to send off the souls of the departed on spirit boats.

There are several versions as to the origin of this tradition. The most commonly held one is that it derives from the Chinese Saishunagashi (floating boat) festival. Saishunagashi was an annual ceremony held by Chinese voyagers and navigators who had come to Nagasaki. At this time, they prayed for the repose of the dead.

In Nagasaki, the family of someone recently deceased makes a large spirit boat, which is then carried to the 'passing point' accompanied by banging gongs and firecrackers. The men carrying the boat shout “Doui!Doui!” as they make their way.

These boats used to be sent off to the sea, but this  is no longer practiced today because of environmental problems.

The influence of China on this tradition is very clear. Many people plug their ears because of the earsplitting sounds of the firecrackers. It is also said that the image presented in the well-known song 'Shourounagashi' by Sadamasashi (a famous Japanese artist) differs considerably from the actual event itself.
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