Obon (or Bon) Festival is a Japanese Buddhist custom for commemorating the spirits of one’s ancestors. It is a customary belief that the ancestors’ spirits visit the world of the living during Obon. Lanterns are hung in front of the houses to guide the spirits; Obon dances (or Bon Odori) are performed to welcome the spirits and to appreciate the ancestors’ sacrifices; people visit the ancestors’ graves; and food offerings, as well as prayers, are offered at the altars and temples.
Depending on Japan’s region, Obon is observed from the 13th to the 15th day of July or August. The last day of the festival is ended with floating lanterns (or Toro Nagashi). Paper lanterns are illuminated and then floated down to rivers, lakes, and seas in order to guide the spirits’ return to the other world. Fireworks display usually follows.
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