Thanks to Our Ancestors - お盆 Obon

Aug 11, 2023


There are a variety of events related to obon. For example, you can see floating candles on the river in many places. Firework festivals and bon-dances are also enjoyed around the obon period. On 16th, the fire of the letter -dai(big)is made in Kyoto.

日本では813日から16日まで「お盆」で、814日にご先祖さまが帰宅します。 東京では明治時代以前の旧暦に従って、713日から16日です。

13th16th of August is obon every year and it is believed that our ancestors will come back home on 14th. But in Tokyo, it is between 13th and 16th of July by following the old calendar (lunar calendar)used before Meiji period.


It seems that Japanese people believe something invisible. I would like to share about 1) Japanese soul – appreciation and 2) things to do during obon. I hope it will be beneficial for your learning. 


1)We believe that our ancestors come back to konoyo (this/our world)' once a year. This is a great opportunity to appreciate them. This is because we are here now thanks to them. Therefore, we wish for their peace at the same time.


2) Normally on 13th, people make a small fire in front of the house in order to show the way to come back home for the ancestors from anoyo (that over there/their world). On 14th and 15th they visit the cemetery and have a gathering with their relatives. On 16th, they make a small fire again in the evening in order to show the way back to anoyo


In addition, obon is not a national holiday but many companies make a holiday during this time. Some people go back to their hometown and some go on a trip.


I have not been back to Japan in summer, but I used to visit the cemetery and meet my relatives at obon. My precious thing from my grandfather is his gold medal when he won the marathon before I was born.


Do you have something like obon in your country too? Is the attitude towards our ancestors similar or common among us? I hope you have learnt something for your life.

Mineko Arai  

Managing Director

Arai Academy of Japanese Studies

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