Obon is all about the returns of our ancestors

Another Obon season is here. It seems like time has been flying by.

Today I want to talk about Obon, which is one of the most important Japanese celebrations and traditions. During Obon season, it is believed that our ancestors’ spirits will return to our homes and we have a special family bond with our deceased ancestors.

Idea may scare some people off especially if you are afraid of ghosts. But Obon is a very special celebration for the Japanese because we use this opportunity to spiritually connect with our ancestors and reflect on the memories and pray for these spirits.

In my family, we use to gather with our Japanese grandparents to celebrate this special occasion when we could. How do we celebrate for this special occasion in Japan?

We often clean rooms and homes. Our family made sure to have plenty of food for our invisible visitors. We usually placed Japanese traditional sweets, fruits and rice in front of the butsudan.

Obon is not really a national holiday, but many Japanese workers use this opportunity to take vacations to visit their relatives’ homes or prepare for this special occasions with their family visitors. Because of Obon, I felt like our family ancestors were still around somewhere even though I couldn’t see it.

Obon is a special Japanese tradition.

“On the first day of Obon, chochin lanterns are lit inside houses, and people go to their family’s grave to call their ancestors’ spirits back home. On the last day, people bring the ancestor’s spirits back to the grave, hanging chochin painted with the family crest to guide the spirits.” (japan.about.com)

“Toro nagashi is a long-held Japanese tradition where candle-lit lanterns are released into rivers to guide the spirits of ancestors back to the other world during the obon season.” (the Japan Times)


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