2006-08-17

Bona Fide Festival!

The 13th through 16th of August is called obon お盆 in Japan. Obon is a Buddhist event and one of the most important traditions for Japanese people. It is the period of praying for the rest of the souls of one's ancestors. People believe that their ancestors' spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during this time.

Some Sendai traditions include:
*going out to the family graves お墓 (o-haka) to welcome your ancestors home.
*the lighting of fires to welcome 迎え火 (mukaebi) or bid farewell to 送り火 (okuribi) one's ancestors.
*setting out fruit and other food お供え (o-sonai) in front of the family altar 仏壇 (butsudan) for your ancestors.

*putting out lanterns 提灯 (chouchin), with the family crest painted on it so one's relatives know where to go. Some regions float these paper lanterns, with a candle inside, down a river to guide them home (Matsushima does this.)
*The air in houses and cemeteries are full of smoke and the smell of incense 線香(senko) at this time.

*Young girls wear an informal 浴衣(Yukata = summer kimono made of cotton) with 下駄(geta=wooden clogs) and do a 盆踊り(bon-odori) dance.

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