Giant lanterns light up snowy night sky

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

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