Giant lanterns light up snowy night sky

Giant paper-balloon lanterns lit up the snowy night sky (CNN/AVN/NHK)

SENBOKU, Japan (CNN/AVN/NHK) — Giant paper-balloon lanterns lit up the night sky in a northern Japanese city as part of a traditional winter event to invite good luck.

The Paper Balloon Festival is celebrated in Senboku City, Akita Prefecture. It began more than a century ago.

The lanterns are like hot air balloons and rise from heat generated by fire from a ball soaked in petroleum.

The balloons were about 19 1/2 feet tall and 9 1/2 feet wide and made of Japanese paper. Participants wrote wishes for a prosperous business and hopes for reconstruction in the 2011 tsunami-hit region.

One visitor said she was impressed by the balloon illumination in the snowy weather. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Users who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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