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Obon: A Summer Festival for Honoring Ancestors
●One of Japan’s Most Important Customs
In the summer festival of Obon-sometimes called simply Bon, but often used with the honorific prefix-Japanese people welcome their ancestors’ spirits to their homes and provide them with offerings.
Obon is most commonly held between August 13 and August 16, although it is observed exactly one month earlier in some regions of Japan. Families pay tribute to their ancestors and visit the graves of deceased relatives,
while in some areas there are long-established traditional dances known as bon odori. Many companies give employees days off for Obon in mid-August.
While the festival is particularly associated with Buddhism-in which tradition it is also known as Urabon’e–it is observed in Shinto, too.
The custom derives from a story about a disciple of the Buddha who made offerings to save his mother from torment in the realm of hungry ghosts (one of the traditional six realms of existence in Buddhism).
Since the Edo period (1603-1868), Obon has become one of Japan’s most important customs, ranking alongside the New Year celebrations in the calendar of annual events.
Families light the way for ancestors, to ensure they are able to find their way to the family residence on the thirteenth, the first day of the festival known as Mukaebon.
Originally, this was done through open fires, but now it is common to use lanterns with electric bulbs.
Special altars are also prepared, which customarily have a bamboo stalk at each corner with straw rope tied between them-some say this is to ward off evil spirits-and a hanging hozuki plant resembling a lantern.
On the altar families place small memorial tablets for the spirits of deceased relatives as well as offerings of seasonal fruit, vegetables, and flowers.
There are also representatives of spirit animals made from cucumber or eggplant-with wooden sticks for legs-to ferry ancestors to and from the realm of the dead. The cucumbers are said to be horses,
to bring them quickly, and the eggplants cows, to take them back slowly.
On Okuribon-the sixteenth of the month-more fires light the spirits back to the netherworld. Most famously, bonfires are lit on five mountains near Kyoto on August 16 in the Gozan Okuribi, which attracts
many tourists. And in some regions, people may float lanterns on the river or sea to guide the spirits, although this is becoming less common.
August 14 and 15, the peak of Obon, are taken as holidays by many Japanese people. And even though they are not national holidays, many people still take time off from work to return to their hometowns.
Once there, they visit the graves of their relatives to clean the gravestones, place flowers, light incense, and make offerings.
Despite Obon’s somber associations, it is also known for the lively dancing of the bon odori, performed for the spirits. These dances still take place today at temples and in town squares, and many have gone beyond
their original purpose to become popular summer festivals in their own right. Dancers may form circles around drummers playing on a central stage or move through the streets, depending on the local tradition.
The Gujo Odori from Gifu Prefecture is a famous example of the former style, while Tokushima Prefecture’s Awa Odori is a well-known version of the latter.
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Obon (お盆) is an annual Buddhist event for commemorating one's ancestors. It is believed that each year during obon, the ancestors' spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.
Traditionally, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide the ancestors' spirits, obon dances (bon odori) are performed, graves are visited and food offerings are made at house altars and temples. At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes and seas in order to guide the spirits back into their world. The customs followed vary strongly from region to region.
Obon is observed around the 15th day of the 7th month of the year, which is July according to the solar calendar; however, it roughly corresponds to August according to the formerly used lunar calendar. As a result, Obon is mainly observed from August 13 to 16, although in some areas it is also observed in mid July.
The Obon week in mid August is one of Japan's three major holiday seasons (alongside New Year and Golden Week), accompanied by intensive domestic and international travel activities and increased accommodation rates. In recent years, travel activitiy in mid August has become somewhat more spread out and less concentrated, but it is still considerable on certain days.
Traffic Situation – Obon 2021
In 2021, there are many calls for people to refrain from traveling across prefectural borders in order to prevent a further spread of the coronavirus. The peak of the Obon travel season is likely going to be less intensive than during the regular year –
especially in case of public transportation – and anticipated to take place between August 7 and August 16. The busiest days are expected to be August 12 and 13 with people leaving the cities and August 15 and 16 with people returning to the cities.
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Welcome Ancestors festival
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Mr. Fukusui doesn't return in Bon.
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Namapo is HAPPY!!
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a tray that to carry dish and cup
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book and this
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Something like 'Día de Muertos'
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Obon is to takes the grandparents's soul my home.
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