Well-wishers float paper dolls downstream at annual event in western Japan

People gathered on riverbanks in Yamaguchi City, western Japan, on Sunday to float paper dolls down a stream, wishing for good health.

The Ichinosaka River, which is known for cherry trees that line both sides, flows through central parts of the city. The event is held by a local civic group around this time of year.

Visitors received Emperor and Empress dolls made of Tokuji washi paper, which is designated as the city's intangible cultural asset.

The participants floated the dolls aboard small paper boats and took pictures of them as they drifted away.

The paper objects are retrieved at the lower part of the river and burned in a bonfire at a local shrine.

A 6-year-old girl said that she enjoyed it very much as cherry blossoms were beautiful and the paper dolls were cute.

A student from Guinea said that she took part in the event for the first time and enjoyed it.

Chijimatsu Tomoyuki, who is a washi craftsman and heads the group organizing the event, said that it's heartwarming to see children enjoying floating the dolls under cherry blossoms.

He said that he wants people to feel the beauty of the traditional custom and the Tokuji washi.