Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Obon and my Busy August

The Obon week in mid August is one of Japan's three major holiday seasons, so transportation get really busy to visit loved ones. It is an annual Buddhist event for commemorating our ancestors, as their spirits believed to return this world in order to visit their relatives. I take this season kind of sacred.

This kind of special lanterns (pic from pc-site) for Obon are put in front of the family altar (2 for one set). And we have our family monk's visits to recite Buddhist sutras. Today, our family monk visited us, (haha, too early but ours is the first house for him to visit his supporters). And we visit family grave yard. Obon is one of three occasions to pay ancestors a visit besides Higan (two periods of seven days with the middle day falling on the spring or autumn equinox). First Obon after death is usually commemorated like the other set memorial service year. My brother who was single died last year, I'm supposed to hold "first Obon" and "first year memorial service" for him this year.

I've already posted about memorial services →here  these occasions are really good chances to get together and see relatives. I wonder if there're occasions  for relatives (in remembrance of the ancestors) to get together  in western cultures.  
Anyways, I will have to spend a bit busy August.  


  1. Very beautiful lamp.
    Love, Lorraine in NY

  2. Hi Orchid, I am sure this memorial is very special to families. I will check out your other posts. I honor my deceased family by having special service at my church (for a donation) when it is their birthday or anniversary of their death. Some people celebrate All Souls' Day which is November 2nd. (((hugs))) xo

  3. Hi Orchid...first, I am so sorry that you lost your brother. It is difficult losing ones we love.

    Thank you for sharing your celebrations. I find it so interesting to hear about other cultures.

    My mom died last November, I have a small shrine on a shelf in my bedroom to her. I am going to add a few more things to it.

    Hugs from Texas! xxxxxx

  4. In my family, we have a yearly celebration. We call it a reunion, a time to be together. At the reunions, we always remember those family members who have died. But it's not specifically held for that reason. We have no ceremony after the initial funeral. I think Oban is a concept that we are missing in Western culture. The absence of Oban makes it difficult for us because we feel like we have lost our loved ones forever. Thank you for sharing this with us. I hope you are comforted through this busy month.

  5. Hallo Orchid! I love it when you tell us about these different traditions. I was also sorry to hear that you had lost your brother, although you did tell me about it before. It is still very early days, so I expect you are still grieving for him. I do think that the Buddhist tradition for remembering their ancestors is such a good one. It is going to be a busy time for you during August but I hope you will still be able to stop by from time to time. Take care. Blessings.

  6. Ah it's almost time for Obon! I remember making horse with eggplant for my ancestors to ride it to go back to the other world. It's a great holiday for family reunion and remember ancestors.

  7. Thank you for sharing a tradition of your culture.

  8. Orchid, thanks for sharing your culture. In the US, we initially hold a memorial service or funeral, but no other services are held. Not everyone does this, but in the Southeastern US we keep their memory alive by having a yearly family reunion with good food, good fellowship and sharing good memories of those who've passed away.

    I'm sorry about your brother - I lost my brother last December and I think of him every day.

  9. thank you for sharing another beautiful custom in your culture.
    I'm one of those people who don't like cemeteries..both my parents knew I probably would not visit their graves. I prefer to remember them and keep them with me in my heart all year round. I do have my twin sisters ashes in an urn on my bookcase in my living-room!Many people remember loved ones at church on the anniversary of their Mother's family were big on visiting graves of family members.
    the Lantern is so pretty. you have such a lovely way of remembering loved ones who have died...Memorial services like you have are very special I think!
    I am so sorry you lost your brother. It is painful..I know!

  10. To,Lorraine.
    Thank you for your first comment in here. Happy you think the lantern lovely!!!

    To, Barbara.
    Oh, "All Souls' Day" I wonder what kind of day it is. I will check it in pc-site later. Having special service, it might be kind of special in your culture and nice to know that church offer these services.Thank you very much!!!

    To, Kim.
    Oh, I'm SO sorry to hear about your mother.
    My Mom died in the year 2,000. I firmly believe that mom and bro are togather up there.
    And interesting to know you have shrine to commemorate her.

    To, kneesandpaws.
    How wonderful that you have a yearly celebration "reunion". Good to see each other regularly, isn't it♪ Glenda mentioned the same thing as you said. Happy to know you have this gatherings♬♬♬

    To, Diane.
    Thank you SO much for your sweet words. It is really hard for everyone to loose loved ones, isn't it... When I was little seeing relatives in these occasions, I remember thinking this custom will be for us living in this world because having fun togather♬♬♬

    To, Tamago.
    Haha, Yes I DO remember making them!!! I don't see people following that custom much nowadays. I think it is a little sad loosing custom one by one.

    To, artistamyjo.
    You are WELCOME!!! Thank you for commenting. I appreciate that.

    To, Glenda.
    Oh, you lost yours last year as well!!! Yes, it may take a while for the sorrow to get healed fully.....
    "a yearly family reunion" I wonder this will be the same with what kneesandpaws mentioned. I am really happy you have this reunion time to see each other♬♬♬

    To, Ann.
    Oh, your twin sister!!! How wonderful to have God send relationship of yours. And it must be SO hard loosing her, I guess no one can imagine. Thank you very much for your kind word. My bro passed away with kind of a tragic way, but now I think keeping him in my heart will ease my sorrow.
    I appreciate your sweet comment!!!

  11. Dearest Orchid,

    Yes, we do have ceremonies and the first one is a holy Mass, six weeks after the loved one passed away. Than we remember them in a special way on All Soul's Day, this is annually. The people that died that past year will be listed, read out loud and lots of flowers are given in memory to decorate the Church. It continues with yearly ceremonies on the day of death to remember the loved one. A holy Mass is said in memory of the person, a gift of money is given to the Priest. So that is about it in our Catholic faith. There are of course many different rituals amongst the various Protestant denominations. We also went twice with our best friends to Tennessee where they did decorate all the graves. That was a very special ceremony which ended in a family meal together; a sort of reunion.
    Hope this gave you some insight in the Western culture and considering that I'm a transplant who went more west from my home country The Netherlands.

    Lots of love,


  12. Orchid, I think Obon is a wonderful custom showing such respect and tribute to the deceased. In Western culture we do not have such a day but many pagans, myself included, honor the deceased at Halloween and those who follow a Nordic path are often having celebrations in their honor. It would be so lovely if we could incorporate more Eastern philosophies into our system on a larger scale. My heart goes to you for the loss of your brother, my sweet friend. Hugs to you.

  13. Hi Orchid,
    I just passing by your beautiful space through Maritte's space.
    I has caught in my eyes on your post Obon that I never forget that the special time for our family get together in pas many years.
    I am sorry that you lost your brother it must be very hard for you in Obon times.
    Original I lived in Osaka and I married an Australian and lived in Melbourne Australia for over 40 years at mean time I went back to Japan and the last time was 2006.
    I will be back soon Orchid san,
    Have a nice weekend,