Obon is an important festival in the Japanese calendar. This is a festival where the Japanese remember their ancestors and it truly is a community affair. There is a wonderful ambience of community spirit with celebrations and parades. In 2019, the festival was held from the 13th – 15th August, but there have been more celebrations over the weekend and I was invited to experience it with a family.
I teach English freelance through HelloSensei.com and one of my students is 4 years old. She and her family live in Kachidoki which is on the Toei Oedo Line and they invited me to join them after her lesson. I accepted as I want to experience as much as I can and they are a lovely family. They also let me borrow a Yukata which is a cotton kimono worn during the summer.
We walked down to the local children’s park where a good number of people had already gathered. In the centre, there was a platform or yagura with drums or taiko, room for people to dance and beautiful lanterns. There were families having picnics, playing games and having a good time.
We joined in the dancing as there people on the platform who showed you what to do. It was fantastic. They also have a section where the children go up. If anyone comes to Japan during the summer I recommend attending a festival as its a wonderful experience for everyone.
Before leaving, we stayed and watched the drum display and these guys, both children and adults, male and female are incredible. They are in unison and it’s fantastic to watch.
Everyone is welcome to attend these events and there is a genuine community feel in the air as they celebrate together.
Overall, I enjoyed Oban and although it is a way for them to honour their ancestors, it is done in a fun way where people gather together, dance, listen to music and eat food. I would definitely recommend attending festivals during any visit to Japan and I would also return to Japan during the summer for this reason.