Japanese typical summer festival Obon (お盆)

Do you know how many days of Japanese summer vacation?

The correct answer is for 3 days.

Everybody say “You joke! hahaha” … yeah, I would like to say this is joking…but, it is a true. 

Actually,13 – 15Aug.These 3 days are very short summer vacation called “Obon-yasumi (お盆休み)”. Japanese are poor people.


Today, I introduce Japanese the Obon vacation.

obon holiday

overseas people often bring flowers to the graves, but we basically only go three times a year. These three days are Obon, the vernal equinox, and the autumn equinox. Both equinoxes are called “Ohigan(お彼岸)”.
It is said our ancestors come back to our world for these terms.

“Obon-yasumi (お盆休み)” means Obon holiday.

We visit to graves to give thanks to the ancestors on the spring, autumnal equinoxes and the Obon-yasumi annual. This is called “Ohaka-mairi (お墓参り)”

How to Ohakamairi

Cleaning graves offering flowers, some sweets and incense by all families.

In Japan, burial in the ground is prohibited by law for sanitary reasons. So there are no zombies in Japan. Cremation is common in Japan. Therefore, in this tomb, the urn contains the bones of the deceased.

About obon


Japanese demons and gods have also on summer vacation for this 3 days, so it is said that our ancestors can return to this world in these 3 days.

I left a cup of sake as an offering when I visited a grave in the summer, but the lid was opened and the cup was empty in autumn!

I don’t know whether our ancestors or human drank it…

kimodameshi (肝試し)


Therefore, there are many stories of ghosts in Japan during this Obon-yasumi season.

I have heard in western countries ,Halloween is the most scarelly season, right?

So, during the summer vacation, there is a ghost game is called Kimodameshi. For example, exploring the Haunted House in the middle of the night.
Some people really missing, though.

Butsudan (仏壇)


“Butsudan” means Buddhist altar. There is this in our parent’s house only.

Can you see wooden material at the right side?
This is called a “Mokugyo (木魚)”, has the shape of a rounded fish. Monk beats this and reads the sutra, which means to summon ancestors.

This means enshrines the memorial tablets of deceased people, and asks the ancestors to protect the house.

Orin (お鈴 / おりん)


We use ring the bell instead of the Mokugyo before praying. This bell is called “Orin (おりん)”

This is a greeting to the ancestors to say “I’m praying now”.

Obuppan(お仏飯 / おんじき)


“Obuppan” is food that is offered to ancestors.

Rakugan (落雁)


Rakugan is a sugar confectionery pressing it into a wooden mold, and drying it.

Vehicle for ancestors (精霊馬)


Before Obon, a eggplant and a cucumber like an animal shape are placed in front of the altar.

Cucumber means horse and eggplant means cow. They are vehicles that bring ancestors from heaven (or hell) on it. They are called “Shoryo-uma (精霊馬)”

Generally, after the Bon Festival is over,  we wash them away in the river or bury them in the ground.

That world for Japanese (三途の川)


People who have experienced near-death overseas often say that they saw the flower garden.

In Japan, it is said to cross the Sanzu River (三途の川). The other side of the river is “That world”. It is said many lotus flowers are blooming. Because, lotus is the Buddha’s flower. 

Lotus roots (蓮根)

When Buddhists see a pond with lots of lotus flowers, we seem “Here looks like a heaven!”

It does not means lotus roots seem yummy…we often eat lotus roots in simmered, though. These are called renkon(蓮根) in Japanese.

Before life (前世)


I have heard, in the Western country, it is said boys are born from cabbage and girls are born from rose buds. So beautiful idea, isn’t it?😀 

Japanese are born from lotus flowers and return to them after death. Not rose or Sakura.

Obon foods


Soumen is fine wheat noodles. We often cold one and eat dipping this into Mentsuyu with grated ginger and chopped leeks.

Ohagi (おはぎ / お萩)


We eat Ohagi in Obon. “Ohagi (おはぎ / お萩)” means glutinous rice ball coated with sweet bean jam. “Botamochi” is old name of ohagi.

Memorial Day (終戦記念日)


Aug15 is also the end of war Memorial Day. I’m sure the reason why it finished on this day is gods wanted to take a lot of heroic spirits to heaven.

We often offer them high quality Sake. This must be the best way to offer to them.

Here’s another look at summer in Japan😄

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