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The Bon Festival

Througout Buddhist Asia, there are many similar festivals held and the one called the Bon Festival in Japan is a popular one in many countries.

The origins are from one of the disciples of Buddha who wanted to help his mother in the afterworld. So the modern version is usually associated with family and the ancestors.

In this Japanese language blog by Momoki sensei, who lives in Yamanashi prefecture, she explains the local custom in that area. Read the Japanese, learn from the vocabulary list and listen to the fluent Japanese reading on the video.








To listen to this blog, please watch our Youtube video. 






August 15th is generally known as Obon day. It is said that on Obon the spirits of the departed come back to this world, and people welcome them with lanterns and offerings. The Obon period and what people do for it differs from area to area, but in Fuefuki City in Yamanashi prefecture where I live, we welcome them with 'a welcome fire' on the 13th and see them off by lighting a ceremonial bonfire on the 16th.

During Obon, we make aspecial altar for the Obon purpose called a Bon Dana and we carve cows and horses from eggplants and cucumbers and display them with fruits. The horses made from cucumbers represent the meaning that we hope that the spirits can come from the other world to this world quickly, and the cows made from eggplants signify that we hope they go from this world back to the other world slowly and the hope that they can also carry offerings back with them is included in this.

My father died 13 years ago, so during Obon we presume that we watch TV at home together and eat dinner together. We laugh at the image of dad straddling a cucumber or eggplant, but it is an important and special event for us.

お盆(ぼん) tray, lantern festival, Bon festival

霊(れい) spirit、 pneuma

現世(げんせ) this life, recentness, this world

提灯(ちょうちん) lantern

お供(そな)え offering

迎(むか)え火(び)welcome fire

送(おく)り火(び)ceremonial bonfire(seeing off the spirits on the final night of O-Bon) 

祭壇(さいだん) altar

あの世(よ)other world, heaven, next world

この世(よ)this world, present world


思(おも)い浮(う)かべる remember、retrieve、call back、call up、recall、think、recollect、remember、think back

行事(ぎょうじ) affair, event


Konnichiwa everyone ! My name is Yuko Momoki and I live in Yamanashi prefecture which is famous for peaches and grapes and is the gateway to Mount Fuji. I have a lively family of 5, consisting of my husband, 2 sons, my mother and myself and we live in an environment surrounded by nature.

Up to now, I have taught Japanese to people from various countries and we have laughed together, worried together, gotten angry and at times spent time together that was often more intense and fun than the time spent with good friends.

When I think about how I will be able to spend the wonderful time that we have to share together...well my heart just pounds! I will try to make sure that we succeed in progressing your Japanese together, douzo yoroshiku onegaiitashimasu.

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