Translated from Nihon no Yurei
There is a memorial custom called nagarekanjyou (流れ灌頂). In a small river that runs next to one of the streets in town, four bamboo poles are stood upright in the river, and a red cloth is stretched between them. Next to the cloth and poles a hishaku spoon is placed so that passer-bys can stop and ladle water over the cloth.
It is said that when the lettering on the cloth has washed away completely, and the colors have faded, that dead person’s soul is released and can float up to nirvana. It is also said that it is dangerous to catch so much as a glimpse of a nagarekanjyou and not stop to ladle water. This will enrage the waiting yurei who will then follow you home.
This custom is most often associated with women who died in childbirth.