NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

2007/9/25

精霊船 Shara-bune Sharabune

Jp En


The custom of Sharabune Okuri (Ship Send-Off) has been passed down in the Mita and Urago areas on Oki-Nishinoshima Island in Shimane Prefecture. Sharabune literally means “a boat for the spirit of the dead.” This tradition is unique to Nishinoshima and is the highlight of the Obon festival every year.

Early in the morning on August 16, children load the boats with gifts for the spirits of their deceased ancestors; then tow the boats out to sea, singing the song of Obon to send off the spirits. Local people watch calmly on the piers.

Constructed of straw and bamboo, the boats are colorfully decorated with strips of colored paper, on which prayers such as “Namu Amidabutsu (meaning “Homage to Amida Buddha) are written. The sight of the colorful boats gently floating on the blue sea toward the offing is beautiful but elegical. In time, the boats disappear in the far distance.

In the old times, each family built a small boat of its own, but from the Meiji period (1868-1912) and onward, a larger boat is made by a hamlet in the village. The replica of the boat is displayed at the Municipal Museum of Nature and Folk Culture.

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address
Urago, Nishinoshima-cho, Oki-gun, Shimane Prefecture 684-0211
name
Sharabune
phone
08514-6-0021




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