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Lanterns light up shrine in Japan's ancient capital Nara during annual ritual

A family enjoys the glow of lanterns at Kasugataisha Shrine in the city of Nara on Aug. 14, 2022. (Mainichi/Tatsuya Fujii) =Click/tap photo for more images.

NARA -- A lantern festival was held at Nara's Kasugataisha Shrine recently, enveloping the grounds in the glow of some 3,000 lanterns.

    The Shinto "Chugen Mantoro" ritual is held every summer during Japan's Obon holiday to pray for people's good health, the well-being of ancestors, and various other wishes. During this year's event on Aug. 14 and 15, the shrine grounds were open to the public for the first time in three years. In 2020 and 2021, the ritual was open only to priests and related parties, and only about 1,000 lanterns were lit, as a COVID-19 precautionary measure.

    From around 6 p.m. on Aug. 14, chief priest Hirotada Kasannoin and others lit the lanterns one after another, enveloping the shrine's vermilion structures and corridors in a magical glow.

    (Japanese original by Mizuki Hayashi, Nara Bureau)

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