Obon is a holiday in remembrance of the dead. It’s probably one of the two most important holidays in Japan. Over a period of a few days most stores shut down, and people return to their childhood homes. They go to cemeteries to visit lost relatives, and provide daily offerings of sweets and rice to ancestors at their home altars. The shrine in front of our house is quite busy during this August week; its bells rung with uncommon frequency.
In addition to this, of course, there are festivals! Because you can’t have a holiday in Japan without a festival. Like last year, I went to a tiny local festival in the town where the Nakanos live, and Fumiji took a bunch of pics of me. (sorry, I’m not posting the pics of them, as they’re all closeups with kids) Nakano- san enlisted my help at the community group’s takoyaki stand, which was fun. (takoyaki is a delicious bell-shaped, fried pancakey thing with octopus inside)
Oh, and the statue I’m posing in front of is a semi-famous statue of Enma-san, the guardian of Hell. I tried to look appropriately frightened. He’s holding a mirror in his hands, a very fuzzy, unpolished mirror that you’re supposed to gaze into – if you can see your eyes in it, you’re going to heaven; if not, it’s straight to hell for you. (I didn’t see my eyes, but honestly, I don’t think anyone could! …Or so I tell myself)
Here’re a few pics Fumiji took: