Summer: 13-15 August おぼんFestival of the Dead
Background • Obon is a Buddhist festival that is celebrated in the summer from 13-15 of August.
Background Continued • It is a time when families pay special tribute to the souls of their dead ancestors. • The spirits of these ancestors are thought to return to their families homes about this time every year.
Preparation • Families clean their homes, sweep the pathways and make horses out of vegetables to make the spirits feel welcome.
Family Homes • During obon, Buddhist priests visit homes to chant sutras and bless the bon altars which people set up for the festival. • Many people decorate small stone shrines in the mountains with flowers and food.
Travelling • Many city people return to their homes in the country and visit their old friends and neighbours, or travel overseas, during obon. • The roads, trains and planes are always busy at this time with people returning home.
Bon Odori • Folk dancing, called bon odori, is held in every community with each area having its own special dance and style. • Originally, the bon dance was intended to welcome and console departed souls. • A cotton yukatais worn by both males and females and all members of the families and community to join.
August 16 – Lanterns • After the festival, on August 16, fires are lit on the hillsides and bamboo and straw boats carrying lit candles are floated down the rivers and streams to guide the ancestors safely back to the world of the dead.