The Obon festival is a Buddhist festival to honor the spirits of dead ancestors. One of the most iconic parts of this festival is the floating of the lanterns, or manto nagashi. Paper lanterns, inscribed with the name of a dead ancestor, are lit with a candle and sent floating down a river to guide spirits back to the world of the dead.
I had the privilege of watching this special event while staying in Kyoto, and it’s beauty was unlike anything else I have ever witnessed. Thousands of people gathered in the pouring rain to watch simple paper lanterns float down the river. I wouldn’t consider myself a very spiritual person, but this was something special and touching.