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Japan Photo Journal: Kyoto lantern makers staying upbeat despite pandemic difficulties

(Mainichi/Kazuki Yamazaki)

Production of chochin lanterns for Kyoto's famed Gion Festival is in full swing at the Okugawa Lantern Factory in the city's Shimogyo Ward, established in the mid-Edo period (1603-1867). The studio's craftspeople are keeping upbeat despite declining orders due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the Gion Festival's "yamahoko" float parade canceled for the second consecutive year this summer, only around 800 lanterns will adorn shopping streets and Yasaka Shrine -- a quarter of a normal year's number -- and only about 50 "komagata chochin" lanterns -- 10% of the usual figure -- will be attached to floats. At the studio, six people craft lanterns by hand for the entire process, from making frames to painting patterns. Tadashi Okugawa, 66, is the eighth generation of his family to run the business. "I hope the coronavirus will disappear soon and everyone can enjoy festivals," he said.

    (Japanese original by Kazuki Yamazaki, Osaka Photo Department)

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