The whole world knows about the atomic bomb that hit Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 where as many as 140 000 people were killed. Since then, each year a memorial ceremony is held on 6 August for those who died and the few who still survive as well as pray for the realization of everlasting world peace.
A big part of the memorial service is the lanterns that they light and float down the Hiroshima River at sunset. That afternoon there were lots of groups making lanterns out of coloured paper dotted all along the river. This Lantern ceremony is held to send off the spirits of the victims on lanterns with peace messages floating on the waters of the River.
Each year the Hiroshima choir will start the evening’s service by standing next to the Hiroshima River singing songs dedicated to the victims of the bomb.
That evening as the Hiroshima choir sang, families of the bomb victims all came and put a lit lantern onto the river. It was amazing to see all these blue, green, red, pink, and white cube-shaped lanterns floating down the river in the twilight. Japanese Buddhists believe that every year the souls of the dead visit their descendants. When the dead return, the lanterns on the river light the path, guiding the spirits of the A-Bomb victims back to heaven.
Despite the large crowds of people, the memory of the solemn event that occurred 63 years ago was still so beautiful and serene.
On the other side of the river, next to the A-Bomb Dome, people were committed to decorating and painting candles.
Kids had loads of fun drawing on these peace candles that that were then lit and put all around the A-dome and even arranged in a peace sign on the banks of the river.
This whole evening was very peaceful and serene. Watching the thousands of lanterns float down the river and walking past the hundreds of peace candles while the Hiroshima choir sang was one of the most moving experiences I have ever had the opportunity to be a part of.
This was a beautiful yet emotionally draining evening and I will remember it for the rest of my life.