Japanese summer vacation “Obon holiday”

Japanese summer vacation “Obon holiday”

What is your favorite holiday? Christmas? Thanksgiving?

One of Japan's most popular holiday is Obon holiday (Japanese: Obon yasumi). Obon holiday is usually held from August 13th to 15th each year. Many offices are closed and this is a large family holiday and many Japanese people will travel to their family homes during that time.  Also, Obon festivals are held all over the country. Obon Festival is an event that takes place over the course of several days commemorating and honoring ancestors.  the souls of ancestors come back to our world and stay home during that time. Therefore, many people take a long holiday at the time and go back to their home to visit the graves of ancestors, clean it, and leave offerings at Buddhist shrines of their ancestors. Public transport may be busier than normal as many people take a vacation during this period and return to their family homes. It is also a time when tickets for flights and trains are more expensive.

Traditions of Obon

  1. Sweeping Graves and Offering Sacrifices People return to their hometowns from the cities and visit the graves of their ancestors to offer sacrifices, such as flowers and fruits. The most distinctive offerings are cucumbers and eggplants made into the shapes of horses and cows respectively. They are known as spirit mounts for the ancestors.The horse is fast, and the ox is slow. Therefore, when the first day of calling the spirits home comes, people offer cucumber horses, and when the last day of guiding the spirits back to their resting places comes, people offer eggplant cows. It expresses the people's hope that their ancestors will come back quickly and go away slowly. In addition to sweeping tombs, people also place these offerings in front of Buddhist niches in their homes.
  2. Bon Odori, or the Bon dance, is a style of dancing performed during Obon in the night. In the middle of a square is a platform on which, usually, someone leads a song and the participants dance around it to the beat of Japanese taiko drums. Participants traditionally wear yukatas, a kind of light cotton kimono.
  3. Giving Gifts, People give gifts to show their gratitude to those who have taken care of them, including parents, friends, leaders, and colleagues. Gifts are usually given between August 1 and August.


The last day of Obon is August 16th    — Seeing off the Spirits.

The day is for guiding the spirits back to their resting places or back to the water, which is where spirits are traditionally believed to reside. During this day, many regions light another bonfire and hang more lanterns painted with the family crest to guide spirits back to their graves. There is a big ceremony of sending off fires in the mountains of Kyoto. People use wood to form a large "大" character, and then set it on fire.

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