Obon is a Japanese festival honoring the dead. The Obon Festivals take place at a buddhist temple, in the summer months between June and August. This festival is usually the biggest event for the temple. Over a period of two or sometimes three days Japanese culture is celebrated with food, music, carnival games, bazaars, and often Ikebana exhibits. Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangements.
The center point of the festivities are the Bon Odori dances. These dances differ by region in Japan and are passed down by generations. Nonetheless, there are also new dances being developed. The Buddhist temples offer classes and videos to learn these dances. Everyone is welcome to join in.
“As the sun sets and the festival lights begin to shine, we think of those who have passed on and celebrate the paths that brought us together in gratitude.”
Buddhist church of America
The origins of Bon Odori are over 500 years old. It is believed that Mokuren, a disciple of Buddha saw his deceased mother and discovered she had fallen to the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and was suffering. Buddha advised him to make offerings to Buddhist monks at the end of the rainy season retreat. When Mokuren saw his mother’s spirit released he danced with joy and gratitude.
Bay Area Obons are from June to August and people travel to these festivals to honor friends and family.
Some upcoming events are:
Sat, Jul 29, 6:00 – 6:45 pm Diablo Japanese American Summer Festival, Concord
Sat, Aug 5, 4 pm Annual BCO Buddhist Church of Oakland Obon Festival
August 5th/6th Palo Alto Buddhist Temple Bazaar & Obon Odori Event
August 12, 2023 Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church
I’m looking forward to attending the BCO Obon in Oakland on Saturday, August 5th, 2023.
Please dance with joy and gratitude!
Buddhist Churches of America
Obon Festival Guide: Meaning, traditions and dates
Bon (festival) Wikipedia