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The Japanese lantern, or chochin, is made of thin but tough translucent paper stretched over a cylindrical bamboo frame, with a candle placed inside providing illumination. On August 26 and 27 every year Suwa Shrine in the town of Isshiki, Aichi Prefecture, mounts the Giant Lantern Festival. This Shinto festival, going back 450 years, has been designated a prefectural cultural property. Its origin is said to be a bonfire lit to repel a sea demon that had been plaguing the area. Thanks to the intervention of the deity of Suwa, the demon was banished. In gratitude, bonfires were lit every year to honor the deity. They were replaced by lanterns in 1661. At first the lanterns were normal size, but over time different neighborhood associations began vying to construct bigger and bigger lanterns. Today the festival features 12 giant lanterns, one pair each for six associations. The largest are about 10 meters high and 5.6 meters in diameter. There are similar festivals elsewhere in Japan, but Isshiki boasts the biggest lanterns.

 


Aichi Prefecture is located roughly in the middle of the Japanese archipelago and is the nation's top industrial prefecture, being the home of Toyota Motor Corp. and other leading-edge manufacturers. It also has a rich history and cultural tradition that continue to enrich the lives of residents today. A number of large-scale projects are planned to lead the prefecture into the twenty-first century, including the 2005 World Exposition and a new international airport.

AICHI VOICE is a colorful English-language publication issued by the Aichi International Association, a nonprofit organization established by the Aichi Prefectural Government, to introduce Aichi's proud traditions and latest trends to a worldwide audience.

This Website contains the magazine's contents in electronic form to give everyone with Internet access a chance to learn more about our prefecture.

We welcome your comments. Please send them using the message box.

To be updated in November 2001
All Rights Reserved Copyright 1998 Aichi International Association

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