Shāra-bune Spirit Boats

Shōryō-nagashi is an Obon practice, where people send off the spirits of their ancestors after welcoming them for the Obon festival. It is quite common to make boats near a river or a coast, and send the boat off loaded with offerings.
Here in the Oki Islands, the word was localized and became Shāra-bune, and it is said all areas on Nishinoshima Island have their own unique methods of sending the boats. In the eastern area, households send their offerings directly into the sea and only those who honor Obon for the first time (the first Obon after a family member passes) would make a spirit boat. On the other hand, in the two areas of Mita and Uragō, the locals would make a large spirit boat for the area and send it off together on August 16 in the morning.
The size of the boats ranges between 3–10 m. The boat from the Funakoshi area is the largest and not only is it laden with offerings, but there is also a tradition of local children getting on the boat to send off their ancestors' spirits. Countless colorful flags with Buddhist sutras written on them adorn the boat, and from afar, it looks like a beautiful paper collage floating on the sea.