(posted; Japanese culture page)
The Obon week in mid August (actual date is from the 13th to the 15th) is one of Japan's major holiday seasons. Any transportation get really crowded to visit loved one. It is an annual Buddhist event for commemorating our ancestors, as their spirits believed to return this world in order to visit their relatives. It’s a great opportunity for dispersed families to get together and spend time with.
Let me tell you how we spend this season;
Before Obon, around 10th, weeding and cleaning the family grave to prepare Obon. Decorate the "Obon Lantern" in front of the family altar like the picture from pc.
Normally on 12th, I clean and decorate our family altar with flowers and offering (fruits, some sweets) Renew the candles and incense.
From 13th to 15th, we visit family grave with flower. It is LOVELY to see many graves have flowers offered and show they had visits. During these days, priests are supposed to visit his parishioners' house to recite Buddhist sutras. However, it is too short for them to visit all the parishioners for only 3 days, they do this really flexible way and ours came on 5th this year.
This picture is from pc. I wished to show an example of what the family altars look like (rather gorgeous one and original wood color is more common). This one is from pc (advertisement) not from private family, so no "spirit tablet"; I thought it is ok to put here. Visiting graves while children must mean foster them the respects for the ancestors. I remember being taken mine by my parents, uncle and aunt together; good occasion to hear a little anecdote about our old relatives.