Where Did All the Lanterns Go?

August 9th, 2008 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »


Mid-July in JP requires attendance at the Japanese lantern festival.  Yet, I’m sure if you are as anal retentive naturally curious as I, you wonder as you marvel at the hundreds upon hundreds of lit and floating rice-paper and wood treasures who has to clean up this mess?

Pic Trick: Click a thumbnail for a larger view.  That opens in the same window. Use your back button to return.

Don’t let that worry your pretty little head anymore. I managed to buttonhole my neighbor two doors down to find out.

When you attend, you can rent a lantern platform, with four upright dowels in a raft-like base. Beside the little lake, two large carts have loads of hundreds of these platforms each. The festival folk provide a four-sided paper form to decorate. Calligraphers are there to paint on characters. Abundant craft supplies at nearby tables let you create your own or augment what they do for you.

As it gets dark, many dozens of families and individuals have their gems ready to launch. They provide lighters and matches for the votive candle on the lantern base. Then in ones, twos and tens, participants squat by the shore of Lake Hibiscus and nudge their lanterns into play. There is almost always an east-to-west breeze. The paper becomes a feeble sail and the aided coast is on.

The silent, flickering display is calming. The festival has its roots in Japanese ones to honor the dead. Locally, most of the lanterns seem to follow that tradition, blessing recently or long deceased loved ones in words and pictures.lanternold.jpg

So you’d suppose the related cultural groups or Forest Hills Educational Trust would be overwhelmed after the event. I can hear by grandmother calling out, “Who’s going to clean up all this mess?”

Well, it turns out from an employee’s wife to me to you, that the cemetery staff does the scut work. They had already spent a couple of days doing extra chores, like parking signs and tapes. Then that evening and mostly the next morning, they manhandle the lanterns.

There’s collecting the platforms, removing the paper and burnt out votive candles, and stacking them back on the wagons. Those carts, by the bye, normally are in service hauling decorative plants to various cemetery locations. Oh, yeah. FH Cemetery stores the platforms between festivals.

For the few stragglers and the lost, there is a boat that is used only to collect those and on occasion mount or unmount art in the lake.

The process seems a bit more glamorous but in the same line as following behind the elephants in the circus parade, being the guy with shovel.


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