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Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawai‘i 2022 offers “space to heal”

June 06, 2022

A lantern on which the word “Shinnyo” and a flower illustration can be seen, floats in a blue-hued pool of water.

Tokyo, JP / Honolulu, HI

As the world continues to emerge from the trying times of the Coronavirus pandemic and with other world crises on everyone’s minds, this year’s Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawai‘i focused on healing. Her Holiness Shinso Ito appeared live from Japan to offer her blessing.

Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawai‘i: Space to Heal took place May 27-June 5 on the grounds of the Shinnyo-en Hawai‘i temple. In support of the local community’s collective efforts to safely emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual floating was not held at Ala Moana Beach on Memorial Day as it had been for so many years before. This was the third lantern floating since its beginning in 1999 that was not held on the beach due to the pandemic.

As in 2021, there was an in-person interactive experience, adhering to social distancing guidelines, as well as opportunities to write messages of remembrance, prayers, and commitments to positive action, on lanterns both in person and virtually. Nearly 500 lanterns were floated this year from around the world. One lantern per family or group was encouraged. There were around 1000 virtual lantern submissions.

Three large illuminated lanterns of paper and wood, mounted on miniature, double-keeled Hawai‘i canoes, decorated with wreaths, sit on a platform in front of a bay.

A highlight of the virtual floating was Her Holiness Shinso Ito offering her blessing live from Japan. Her Holiness recounted the story of traveling with her father, Master Shinjo Ito, to Hawai‘i to pay their respects to those who lost their lives in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

An arched wooden bridge with railings, decorated with lanterns at its base, spans a small man-made river, leading to a circular, central island, on which stands a waist high pool.

“The names of the fallen entombed in the ship are engraved on one wall. We offered a wreath of flowers and prayed in silence. ‘I am truly and deeply sorry’. This was all I could say in prayer. Any attempt for words beyond that failed. But I extended to the fullest my sincerest prayers to the fallen,” said Her Holiness Shinso Ito, recalling the words of her father.

Master Shinjo Ito reflected in his journals that these “travels to the United States were marked with offering prayers transcending notions of “us” vs “them”. He returned to Japan inspired with his wish to offer an opportunity for all of us to pause and show our care equally for all humanity. This reflection eventually led to the creation of the Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawai‘i.

In a bay near a city-scape at sunset, a group of men in a double-keeled Hawai‘i canoe prepare to float two large lanterns, which can be seen balanced atop two plinths in the boat.

“We had to first build relationships within the community and create a space where all could come together in a shared spirit of remembrance,” said Her Holiness Shinso Ito in her remarks. “I believe that Shinjo’s intent -that all of us come together for a single moment without any distinction between friend or foe- has been brought to its fullest fruition today,” she continued.

Lighting Artist Hideaki Tsutsui created the interactive experience once again this year. The experience included bridges that symbolize the journey from this world to the next, and a water feature where the public could float their lanterns dedicated to loved ones. Pods of five people each spent 30 minutes in the interactive experience. Over the course of 10 days 1,100 people visited the installation.

Shinjo and Masako in lay clothes, facing away, bow their heads in prayer before the marble wall of the Arizona Memorial inscribed with the names of the dead at Pearl Harbor.

“The entire installation is to symbolize the journey of human life and that we all end at the same place. The shape of the circle was inspired by the Hawaiian lei and to express and share the feelings of love, happiness, honor, friendship, and goodbyes,” said Tsutsui.  “Bridges are to create a sense of the transformation of space into the spiritual world, by crossing the bridge before floating the lanterns. The pool of water is to honor the lives and the resilience of human nature, and with the promise that Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawai‘i will return to the beach.”

The entire Shinnyo community looks forward to a time when once again we can safely gather thousands on the shores of Oahu to dedicate lanterns and feel connected to loved ones past and present.

Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawai‘i: Space to Heal is available on demand on the homepage at  https://www.lanternfloatinghawaii.com.

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