13 to 15 July

Bon is the Japanese word for lantern, but the O-Bon* or Bon festival is known both as the ‘Festival of Lanterns’ and the ‘Festival of Souls’. Taking place across three days, it is a time for spirits of the dead to make a brief return to their earthly homes. Many people return to their hometowns to tend family graves and to festoon the graveyard with paper lanterns and incense to guide the spirits of their ancestors. Homes are cleaned and illuminated inside and out with lanterns too. On the final evening of celebrations, Bon Odori (lantern dances) are performed and okuri-dango (farewell rice dumplings) are offered to the spirits. Celebrations end when the paper lanterns are taken to the nearest river or ocean where they float away, guiding the spirits back to Meidu, the celestial world of the dead.

* The ‘O’ is often attached to ‘Bon’ as an honorific prefix

For more information about O-Bon please click here