Obon at the Otani Cemetery, Kyoto, Japan

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Obon at the Otani Cemetary, Kyoto






Obon (お盆) is the Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. This Buddhist custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to their family places and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves.  During this time, the ancestor’s spirits are supposed to revisit the household altars.

During Obon, many people typically visit their ancestors’ graves. I therefore decided to take this opportunity to visit a favorite off the beaten path spots in Kyoto — Higasi Otani, one of the most dramatic cemeteries in Japan. Great views and a good opportunity to see how the Japanese tend to their lost loved ones.  The Higashi-Otani Mausoleum sets thousands of lanterns for people visiting their ancestors’ graves.

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More about Obon

The festival of Obon lasts for three days.  Various regions of Japan celebrate it at different time.  “Shichigatsu Bon” (Bon in July) is based on the solar calendar and is celebrated around July 15th in eastern Japan (Tokyo). “Hachigatsu Bon” (Bon in August) is based on the lunar calendar and is celebrated around August 15th, which is the most common time. “Kyu Bon” (Old Bon) is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, and so differs each year. “Kyu Bon” is celebrated in areas like the northern part of the Kantō region, Chūgoku region, Shikoku, and the Okinawa Prefecture. 
Hassaku in Gion, Kyoto, Japan
Outing to Uji, next to Kyoto, Japan