Hiroshima paper lantern ceremony coming up
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published: July 11, 2018
Every year, on the evening of August 6th, colorful lanterns with messages of peace are placed into the Motoyasu River in Peace Park. The beautiful lantern floating ceremony in Hiroshima is held to honor and remember all of the lives that were lost on August 6, 1945.
Paper lanterns can be purchased by anyone who wants to place one in the river. Once purchased, you can write your message of peace and then take it down to the river. When you get down on the riverbank, someone will help you put your lantern together and light a candle in it. After that, you can hand it off to the volunteers who place the lanterns in the river. The lines to purchase the lantern and write your message, and the line to go down place your lantern in the river are very long, but don’t let that dissuade you. The lines move fairly quickly.
Having grown up in Iwakuni, I was always told to stay away from Hiroshima on the 6th of August. I think it was a different time back then. Now, people from all over the world come on this day to pay their respects and place a lantern in the river. The first time I went, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I can’t even begin to describe what it was like to see the thousands of lanterns floating down the river. It was a little bit overwhelming for me. Thinking about all of the lives lost, reading the messages of peace, and seeing thousands of people from all over the world gathering in this spot. I’m getting goose bumps just thinking about it now. It is something I think everyone should experience.
The event kicks off at 6:00, but the lines for the paper lanterns start before then. There is a small fee to cover the costs of the lanterns, and they provide markers to write messages and decorate the lanterns. I recommend walking around the main area of the event, which is across from the Atomic Bomb Dome. After the lanterns start floating down the river, head over to the other side of bridge to get a different view. It’s not quite as crowded on that side of the bridge and it’s a little darker. I enjoy the break from the crowds and I’m always able to find a spot to sit and watch the lanterns float by.
My preferred way to get there is by train. I’m not sure how bad the traffic might be, or how difficult it might be to get parking. Since the date usually falls on a weekday and I’m heading there after work, I prefer to just sit on the train and not have to worry about traffic or parking.
If you decide to travel by train, purchase round trip tickets so you don’t have to deal with the lines at the ticket machines in Hiroshima Station when you’re ready to head back. Another way to avoid the lines at the ticket machines is to purchase an ICOCA Card. With this card, you can put money on it and just scan you way through the gates at the train station. You can add money to your card at the ticket machines, and there are also ICOCA charging stations usually located near the gates.