One of the great things about visiting Hawaii is that you not only can experience influences from the Hawaiian culture but those of many Asian cultures as well. One such experience happened yesterday, the annual Memorial Day Lantern Floating Ceremony.

The Memorial Day Lantern Floating Ceremony comes from a Japanese ceremony with Buddhist origins in which participants launch lanterns into the water to mark the end of the Obon festival season. (The Obon festival is an event in which Buddhists pay homage to their deceased ancestors.) Lantern floating has become an Asian spiritual tradition which symbolizes the wish for all people to coexist together. In Hawaii this ceremony has been symbolic to remember loved ones who are deceased; it is the belief that the lanterns once released into the ocean will take with them prayers or wishes.

The ceremony is led by Her Holiness Keishu Shinso, the spiritual head of Shinnyo-en. The lanterns become available earlier in the day and people are able to inscribe personal handwritten messages to their loved ones. Monetary donations are voluntary and lanterns are available on a first-come first-served basis. The event takes place at Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park.

This year’s ceremony was attended by over 40,000 people in and more than 2000 lanterns were released into the ocean. It’s a beautiful sight to see what happens right at sunset. As night approaches the lanterns begin to glow in the distance which becomes a truly beautiful experience. Hawaii is such a multicultural place and lantern floating brings people from all cultures, nations and faiths together.

From festivals to parades, there are events like this and more take place all year round on the islands. If you need more information about when events are taking place, we will keep you posted here on this blog. Also feel free to give us a call and we’ll be happy to let you know what cultural experiences are happening during your Hawaii vacation.


  1. I am sure that the evening is certainly magical with lanterns casting its glow… I have also attended a beach wedding where they placed a lanterns near the shore… It was such a lovely sight… 😀

  2. this looks like a serene event. for a people with a rich and interesting culture, i’m sure that this event is a great site to be seen.

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