Spirit of Obon
Tonight you glow bright.
Secure in our thoughts,
you drift downstream, to your world.
Across many parts of Japan for three days each year families come together to celebrate Obon. It is believed that during this annual Buddhist festival, ancestral spirits return to this world to visit their living relatives. On the last day of Obon, family members float lanterns in rivers, lakes and seas to guide the spirits back home again.
Outside the Todai-Ji Great Hall in Nara, which houses one of Japan’s most imposing bronze Buddhas, we find lanterns being prepared and inscribed. It is a beautiful and thought provoking sight, so many paper thin memorials, lined up and waiting for dusk to fall. We have no lantern for our own relatives who have passed from this life, but they are in our thoughts.