Every year on Memorial Day in America, people remember and honor those who have fallen in service to their country. Several sources account for its origins, among which is the tale of women in the South who visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers after the Civil War. Disturbed by the sight of the neglected graves of Union soldiers, they offered flowers on their graves as well. In recent years, the custom has grown to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones in addition to honoring all who died in battle.
When the founder of Shinnyo-en visited Hawaiʻi in 1970, he paid respect at Punchbowl and the Arizona Memorial. Profoundly moved by this experience, he was inspired with the wish to hold a lantern floating where people could share their hopes for peace. His successor, Her Holiness Shinso Ito, further inspired by the tale of the Southern women, carried out his wish in the form of Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaiʻi on Memorial Day, 1999.
For its first three years, Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaiʻi was held at Keʻehi Lagoon on the south shore of Oʻahu. In 2002, the ceremony was moved a few miles down the coast to Ala Moana Beach.
Due to the Coronavirus Pandemic lockdown in 2020, Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaiʻi was observed as a pre-recorded TV and Internet broadcast, sharing inspiring stories of connection, perserverance, hope, and remembrance. In 2021 and 2022, in addition to a TV and Internet broadcast, Shinnyo Lantern Floating Hawaiʻi was observed as a small-scale in-person event spanning several days at the Shinnyo-en Hawaii temple in Honolulu.