Table of Contents Table of Contents
Previous Page  107 / 164 Next Page
Basic version Information
Show Menu
Previous Page 107 / 164 Next Page
Page Background


‘Keep it upright,’ my father whispers. Crouched at the riverbed, my

hands gently caress the paper lantern glowing against the night sky.

Beside me, my sister, Akari, cautiously steps back from the riverbed,

her back straight as she watches her lantern gently bob across the

river, the light flickering against the wind. Slowly, she raises her hand

to the hesitant streamthat silently trickles downher cheek. Returning

back to my lantern, my face glowed with glimmering luminance. A

slow smile crept across my face; I enjoy the traditional ceremonies of

our people, our connection to the land. I reluctantly release the

lantern into the water where the current immediately begins to pull

it downstream. I glance into the distant across the riverbed where

families gather, each tenderly setting a radiant lantern free, a few

ghostly faces holding back tears. The wind dances around us, picking

and then dropping tendrils of hair, rustling against the paper lanterns

as they progress into the night sky.

The lanterns join together, a growing force nestled against one

another, lighting up the world as they flicker like the jewels of a

cherry blossom tree. Tentatively placing a hand on my shoulders and

my sister’s, our father whispers,

guiding the spirits

. It is what has been

taught to us, an ancient tradition,

Toro Nagashi

, the ceremony after a

loved one has passed into the next world. Today it is our grandfather,

a community elder well-respected and loved by all. After passing,

you become a spirit, an ancestor to look down upon us, to watch our

ways; the release of lanterns, guiding the spirit off into another land.


Stepping out of the hut, the icy wind stings my cheeks. Looking out,

the community is silent, workers catching some rest before the rising

sun signals another day within the rice fields. A cold chill passes

through the front door, yet my family lies motionless; bodies at peace,

at rest, rejuvenation of the mind and muscles before the onset of yet

another strenuous day. Silently, I close the door, glancing across to

the mountains with a dainty old tin bottle in one hand and an oil

lamp in the other which is shining briefly into the distance, lighting

my way into the dark land, my land. But this time, I am alone.

Today’s climb, up into the hilltop that juts out across the land, is

lonely. It feels unknown, the first time walking this route, climbing

the mountain without my grandfather. It was our thing, discovering

the countryside, the mountains that surrounded our fields. We

found old bullets, the shells of bombs; signs of the war that shook