Ancestors' spirits back? What is Japanese O-Bon?

In the four days from August 13th to the 16th, a representative summer event called "O-Bon" will be held in Japan. During this period, many Japanese people will return home to make family reunion and worship their ancestors. Then what kind of activity is O-Bon?

Long, long ago, people thought that the soul of ancestors would return to the world only during the O-Bon of one year. So people will make various preparations for the return of the soul of the ancestors.

On the day before O-Bon, people will stick the chopsticks or toothpicks in cucumbers and eggplants to make "Shoryo-uma" and "Shoryo-ushi" and put them on the entrance or Shoryodana.


On the first day of the O-Bon, people will ignite the straw, which is called "Mukaebi", as the marks in order to let the ancestors come back smoothly without getting lost.

Cherish the memory of the dead

During the O-Bon, the relatives will reunite and have family meal, in a cordial and friendly atmosphere, everyone will remember and recall the deceased while drinking.


On the last day of O-Bon, when the evening comes, people will ignite the the Okuribi, just like the Mukaebi, to send away the soul of the ancestors. The Okuribi is to illuminate the way when the ancestors returned.

In Kyoto, on this day, people will light five giant bonfires with text shapes and boat shapes on the five mountains surrounding the city, this is called "Gozan no Okuribi".

This is a traditional Japanese activity called "shorobune-Shoryonagashi", which is a ritual that floats the lantern in the river together with flowers and sacrifices to send away the spirits, that is also a kind of Okuribi.

Although the soul can't be seen or touched, people will also place flowers; even if the ancestors can't eat, people will also offer delicious food; even if the soul can't hear, people will also talk to them. The O-Bon is such a ritual for the invisible and silent soul, and it is also a kind of awe and praise to the life.