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Matsuura City , Nagasaki Related category:
The Shoro Nagashi of Shisa - Weaving the Consolation for the Ancestors    

Digest: 3 minutes
Entire story: 28 minutes
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Shisa-cho of Matsuura City is located in the northern part of Nagasaki Prefecture. In this town on August 15, every year, shorobune boats float on the river to send off the spirits of the deceased. The origin of Shoro nagashi, the activity where shorobune are sent off, is only sketchily known, but some say it goes back to the Kamakura period (1192-1333). From the beginning, shorobune were mostly made of straw, but it has now become difficult to obtain straw long enough to build the boat. However, in Tate-machi in the Ura area of Shisa-cho, shorobune are still made with straw according to the tradition. As straw tends to absorb water easily, it is important to weave the straw tightly without creating a gap. Nowadays few people have the skills to do this weaving and they are eager to pass on the skills to younger generations. The straw, which begins as a mere long rope, gradually becomes thicker and more robust, and finally takes the shape of the boat. It is decorated with ornaments and the shorobune is finished. It is shown to the public from the early hours of August 15, which is called niwamise. When dusk approaches, people begin to assemble and the households which will send off their deceased family members place offerings on the straw shorobune. The shorobune from five districts where the niwamise has finished are sent off by many people. It goes slowly into the Shisa River in the reflection of the lights on the river surface, and slowly floats away against a background of fireworks. The Shoro nagashi in Shisa-cho will launch boats carrying peoples feelings for the deceased next summer and in every summer to come.

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