A beautiful send off for visiting ancestral spirits…
Obon Matsuri is a Japanese Buddhist festival that is a time for honouring the souls of dead ancestors whose spirits supposedly come back to visit their earthly family. The 3 days of Obon is an important time for family gatherings and visiting ancestors’ graves.
Shrines are set up in homes with food and drink placed on them for returning spirits to come and rest during Obon.
In the evening of the last day waterways are illuminated by hundreds of floating paper lanterns that are cast off down the rivers to send the visiting spirits of ancestors back to the realms of the dead, sometimes you see the names of the deceased written on them.
The city of Morioka in northern Japan goes a whole step further and sends the spirits off in real style by burning boats stuffed with fireworks! The festival is called Funekko Nagashi. Other parts of Japan celebrate with other firey festivals such as Daimonji Gozan Okurib, or you can dance the Bon Odori at the (Awa Odori) dance festival. At Obon in Nagasaki City families decorate a boat to honour a loved one, and the boats are paraded through the city to the sea accompanied by loud Chinese firecrackers. Read Tsushima Escapades blog post on Obon in Nagasaki and Tsushima
When is Obon?
Obon was originally celebrated around the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar. Nowadays it is celebrated at different times in various regions of Japan. In some areas of Tokyo, Obon is celebrated around July 15th, and it is still celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month (so varying dates) in many areas of Okinawa. The festival last for 3 days, typically August 13th to August 16th.
Who’s been to Obon Matsuri?
Get it right from the horse’s mouth! Here are a couple of blogs from those who have been to Obon Matsuri – Sakuradragon and Foodbuzz – or check out our Obon Matsuri flickr gallery for more amazing pictures.
Have you been to the Obon Matsuri in Japan yourself? If so, please tell us all about it!
Eat Teriyaki, Yakitori Chicken or Sushi. Sekihan rice is often served on special occasions, holidays and festivals in Japan. Its red colour is considered the colour of happiness. Try our Sekihan recipe. Drink warm Sake.
Travel to Japan
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holiday reading and travel books on Japan to binoculars and
Enjoy your trip! And when you’re home we’d love you to come back and tell us all about it!