Bon Festival

The smell of incense fills the air. Paper lanterns light up homes and cemeteries. It’s the Japanese festival of Bon, the time of year when Buddhists believe the spirits of their ancestors come to visit them. The festival takes place from July 13 to 15.

Obon (Japanese) or just Bon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon Odori. This custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars.

The festival of Obon lasts for three days; however, its starting date varies within different regions of Japan. In modern Japan, it is held on July 15 in the eastern part (Kant?), on August 15 in the western part (Kansai), and in Okinawa and the Amami Islands it is celebrated like China’s Ghost Festival on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month.

During the festival, Buddhists light paper lanterns at their homes to guide the spirits. They also leave food in their homes and cemeteries to welcome the spirits. Families go to the cemetery to clean family graves. They may also entertain guests at home or exchange gifts.

On the last evening, families float the lanterns down rivers or on the sea. They believe the lanterns carry the spirits back to the spirit world.

Picture Credit : Google