Glossary (Phrase list) >> Bon 盆 & Bon Odori-dance

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Bon 盆 & Bon Odori 盆踊り


Bon 盆

  Bon or O-Bon is the period when the spirits of the ancestors come back to this world from another world called Jodo 浄土.  Jodo is said to be the place where Hotoke-buddhas live.  Dates and customs of the Bon period are a different by region, but many Japanese regard August the 15th as the Bon day and take days off around that day to go to each home town to worship old ancestors.

  Actually, we pray to the ancestors at each home temple or the portable temple called Butsudan 仏壇 in the house at home town on that day.


Bon Odori 盆踊り

  It used to be an event to calm the ancestral spirits that came back during the Bon period.  Ancient Japanese performed Bon Odori-dance for the old ancestors and also for good harvest etc.

  It's now enjoyed as a kind of Japanese folk dance in the summer also with visitors from outside as the religious meaning has softened.

  We can see Bon Odori at temples, shrines, and other public places in Kamakura as well as all over the country in the summer.

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on the beach


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FYI -Ohigan お彼岸-

  Many Japanese also worship the ancestors on Ohigan days, which is basically March 21 and September 23.  Ohigan and Bon are the same in the meaning of the day to worship the ancestors, but we talk to the old family members in another world at Ohigan, while they come to this world at Bon.


Note -Traffic condition-

  So many Japanese go to their home town during the Bon period and it makes heavy traffic jams all over the country, especially on the main toll ways such as Tomei Kosoku 東名, Chuo Kosoku 中央, Tohoku Jidoshado 東北, and Kanetsu Jidoshado 関越.  Also, reservation for the domestic air lines and Shinakansen-Bullet train are likely to be fully booked.  That congestion is as heavy as that of the New Year Holidays every year.


Related page: "Summer Beach" -Seasonal-

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