Lifestyles and Traditions - Culture
Shōryō-nagashi is an Obon practice, where people send off ancestor spirits after welcoming them for the occasion. It is quite common to make boats near a river or a coast, and send the boat off loaded with offerings. Here in Oki, the word was localized and became Shāra-bune, and it is said all areas on Nishinoshima Island have their own unique method 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 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 them off together on August 16 in the morning. The size of the boats range between 3m - 10m. The boat from 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 ancestor 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.