Survivors prayed for victims of last year’s earthquake and tsunami on Aug. 11 ahead of the traditional Bon period, when the spirits of the dead are believed to return to their family homes.
In Kamaishi, Iwate Prefecture, about 1,000 lanterns were floated in the Kasshigawa river, carrying messages, such as “We hope the Tohoku region will be filled with smiles” and “We are holding back our tears and hanging tough.”
It was part of the event “Sanriku Umi no Bon,” in which people prayed for the repose of the souls of victims and the reconstruction of disaster areas.
Fourteen performing folk art groups from the coastal Sanriku region and elsewhere presented music, dance and other performances in the city earlier in the day.
Many groups lost their members in the disaster and had costumes and props washed away.
In the Taro district of Miyako, in the same prefecture, candles were lit and fireworks were shot off in memory of victims.
The candles, dubbed “Yumeakari” (Lamp of dream), were set inside coverings made of milk cartons, with characters such as “kizuna” (bond) and “hikari” (light).
In Otsuchi, also in Iwate Prefecture, senior town officials prayed for 40 town employees killed in the disaster in front of the former town hall at 2:46 p.m., when the Great East Japan Earthquake struck on March 11, 2011.
In a speech, Mayor Yutaka Ikarigawa said he wished he could have continued to work with the victims as town officials have been caught up with reconstruction work.
He said the Tanabata (Star Festival) decoration of an Otsuchi resident who has evacuated the town contained a small child’s message, “Father, let’s return to Otsuchi someday.”
Ikarigawa said he is determined to make the child’s wish come true at the earliest possible date.
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