Bon Festival (also known as Obon Festival ) is a custom from the buddhism that honors the spirits of one’s ancestors. Some people living outside their ancestors place, would return and reunite with the family to visit and clean the graves from their long gone.
At the beginning of Meiji Era, the lunar calendar was changed to the Gregorian one. With this change, towns and cities from Japan reacted differently, resulting in three different dates for this festival. In all three dated, Obon lasts three days.
“Hachigatsu Bon” is based on the lunar calendar, celebrated around August 15th. This is the most commonly celebrated time.
“Kyu Bon” (Old Bon) is also based on the lunar calendar but celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month, changing the date each year.
It is celebrated in open spaces with many food stalls selling okonomiyaki, takoyaki, yakitori among others. There are also game booths and kakigori and sake stalls to enliven the atmosphere. ^^
At a certain time, traditional music is played with a group of taiko drums place in the center of the space to set the pace for the very traditional Bon Odori. All who want to dance can join to dance around and have a good time. The style of the dance can vary from one region to another.
On the last night of the festival, chōchin lanterns are illuminated and floated down the river based on the believe that the ancestral spirits’ return to the world of the dead.
During the Obon festival, it is believed ancestral spirits come to visit their families. On the 13th, chochin lanterns are lit inside families’ houses to guide the spirits home.
Vegetarian foods are set out as an offering for the ancestral spirits. One tradition is to construct cucumber horses and eggplant cows to represent the spirits’ quick arrival by horse and slow departure by cow.
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