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Hiroshima Lanterns

Several of you have requested instructions for making floating lanterns for the Hiroshima commemoration. Below are some suggestions, but do feel free to innovate!

There are three complementary approaches - and plenty of hybrids -


Jews for Justice for Palestinians have generously given us hundreds of battery-operated electric candles left from their recent Trafalgar Square demonstration. We will bring these along to Alexandra Park, so you will not have to provide your own tea-lights this year. Please be patient; some need coaxing into life!

Recycle an existing tray

  • Take a plastic margarine tub or some other food tray.
  • Glue a strip of coloured tissue, 4 - 6 inches wide, round the inside surface of the tray. If the tray has sloping sides, bunch the foot of the tissue paper at the corners of the tray.
  • Fix a tea-light candle to the centre of the base with glue, double-sided tape or a peelable tab.
  • Fold down the top edge of the tissue to stiffen it.
Tissue does not readily stay put. Don't be dismayed if you have to abandon your first attempt!

Make your own tray

  • Cut a sheet of A4 card or stiff paper in half, length-wise.
  • Cut apertures for coloured tissue paper.
  • Fold to make the four sides of an open-topped box.
  • Fix this to a cardboard base.
  • Attach tissue paper and fix a tea-light candle as above.
  • Alternatively, make a tray of folded card, and fix coloured paper to the sides of the tray.

An Origami Lantern

Start with a sheet of printed wrapping paper between about 6 inches and 10 inches square.

The instructions below for making a sampan (a traditional Japanese boat) are taken from Robin Harbin's "Origami 1".

There is a video on the internet to give you confidence. You should start with a bigger sheet than is recommended in the video, to make sure you have room for your tea-light.
Embellish your sampan with blossom, leaves or coloured tissue. Natural materials are best added at the last moment, or they will wilt.

Have fun folding!

Finally, watch this video to see how lanterns are constructed in Japan.