Friday, August 19, 2011

Bon Festival


We just experienced our very first Bon (also called Obon) festival last week.  Usually held around the middle of August, this is the largest summer festival in Japan that continues for three days.  The Bon festival is centered around a  Buddhist custom of paying homage to one's ancestors.  Many people return to the home towns of their ancestors and clean off their graves.  Buddists believe that once the graves are clean, then the ancestors spirit will returns to an alter which is in the home.  This is a busy time for Japanese, and a tradition that has been going on for centuries.  

Many people dancing around the stage.
The Bon festival we attended was just one evening full of food, games, dancing and of course drinking.  People wore traditional summer yukata or kimono and danced in a circle around the stage. Bon-Odori is a type of folk dancing that is performed during Bon. 

I had the opportunity to go to three days of Bon-Odori lessons last week before the festival, but I was working and missed out.  Next year, I will be sure to learn the dances so that I can participate in this event.  One of my kids even got in the circle and started to follow along with one of the dances.  Again, there are so many chances for us to be involved in the culture here.  No matter what season, there's always a reason to celebrate.

Dancing around in a circle in traditional costume.

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