Posted on September 08 2021
Every summer we celebrate Obon for about 3 days, which is a yearly Buddhist event for remembering our 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 in 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 Years and Golden Week). 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.
This is also the beginning of summer holidays. Many people plan trips around this time both domestically and abroad. If you have plans to travel around Japan in this time, expect higher prices and plan far in advance.
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