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Obon is a summer celebration in Japan for welcoming back ancestors’ spirits and returning to one’s family roots. It is a yearly Buddhist event for commemorating one’s ancestors. During Obon, it is believed that the ancestors’ spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.
See the fact file below for more information on the Obon or alternatively, you can download our 19-page Obon worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
THE OBON CELEBRATION
- Obon, also known as Bon, is one of the most important customs in Japan that was introduced by the Buddhists to the Japanese.
- Obon is a holiday in mid-July or August and usually lasts a week. It brings families together and reunites them with the dead.
- It is loosely interpreted as “Festival of the Dead”.
THE HISTORY OF OBON IN JAPAN
- The Obon Festival originates from the Buddhist traditions that reached Japanese shores in earlier times.
- According to legend, Maha Maudgalyayana (Mokuren), a disciple of the Buddha, used his supernatural powers to look upon his deceased mother, only to discover she had fallen into the Realm of Hungry Ghosts and was suffering.
- He went to the Buddha and asked for help with his worries.
- It is said that Mokuren was instructed to make offerings on the 15th day of the 7th month to Buddhist monks.
- This act allowed his mother to be released from suffering.
- Because of his happiness, he danced with joy and this is where the custom of the “Bon Dance” started.
WHEN IS OBON CELEBRATED?
- It is vital to remember that the Obon festival is celebrated at different times of year in different parts of the country.
- It is more usual to celebrate Obon on the 15th day of August, and it then lasts for three days.
- However, some parts of the country, like Tokyo and the cities surrounding it, celebrate Obon on July 15th.
- Places like Okinawa have based the lunar calendar according to when the celebration is. Although there is no specific date for the Obon festival, it would always fall on the 15th day of the 7th month in the lunar calendar.
- It is fine for people to celebrate Obon not on the day itself, as long as they ensure that they welcome their ancestors’ spirits and send them back again to the afterlife.
- Since Obon is quite a special and personal celebration which is only for the family, they can choose to celebrate it a few days after the original date.
CELEBRATION OF OBON IN JAPAN
- Obon Light – Obon Light is a welcoming fire where people usually light small flames outside their homes on the first day of the Obon week.
- The Japanese believe that this light will help lead the spirits of their ancestors and loved ones home. It is the light that the ancestors use to determine where their family lives.
- Because of the possibility of danger of the fire outside the home, it has been changed to small lanterns hung near the doorway. Nowadays, technological development has changed these to electrified paper lanterns.
- Obon Dance – During the ceremonial lantern lighting or welcoming fire, townships usually perform elaborate dances known as the Obon Odori which, according to legends, are a means of expressing joy and happiness that the ancestors are free from suffering.
- It is usual to see a person singing in the center on a platform while others play Ondo or Japanese folk music.
- Dancers dance in small circles around the yagura, the platform where the music is being produced.
- The Offerings – Some special delicacies are served during the Obon season.
- These food offerings are known as Ozen, or food shared with the dead, which usually includes typical food such as rice, tea, fruit, and sweets.
- Normally, the sweets that are served during Obon are shaped like lotus leaves, which are a popular Buddhist symbol.
- The Grave Visit – After the rituals and ceremonies at home, families normally go to the gravesite to visit the resting place of their family members.
- It is a traditional ritual to bring a pail of water and a ladle to “clean” the grave, while others also use brushes to clear away mold and dirt from the stone heads.
CELEBRATION OUTSIDE JAPAN
- Bon Festivals are held in other countries, especially those with large Japanese communities to ensure that Japanese migrants, especially the younger generation, never forget their traditions and customs, and to remind them of the importance of respecting the spirits of their ancestors.
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about the Obon across 19 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Obon worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about the Obon which is a summer celebration in Japan for welcoming back ancestors’ spirits and returning to one’s family roots. It is a yearly Buddhist event for commemorating one’s ancestors. During Obon, it is believed that the ancestors’ spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Obon Facts
- Obon Festival
- Importance of Obon
- Factual Page
- Starts With “O”
- Family Ancestors
- Origin of Obon
- Foreign Countries
- Obon Celebration
- Obon Representation
- In My Opinion
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Link will appear as Obon Facts & Worksheets: https://kidskonnect.com - KidsKonnect, May 27, 2020
Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.