Saturday, August 23, 2008

Obon holidays

Obon is an annual Buddhist event to commemorate our ancestors. It is believed that each year during obon, the spirits of ancestors return to this world in order to visit their relatives. Traditionally, lanterns are hung in front of houses to guide the ancestors' spirits, graves are visited, and food offerings are made at house altars. At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes, and seas in order to guide the spirits back into their world. The customs followed vary strongly from region to region. Obon is celebrated from the 13th to the 15th of August every year.
My hubby's ancestral home (jikka) is in the suburbs of Nagoya. Our flight from Akita to Nagoya was in the afternoon of the 13th of August. On that day, me and hubby reached Akita Airport about two hours prior to the departure time as we had to buy souvenirs for all our relatives and also had to take lunch. My father-in-law was waiting for us at Komaki Airport in Nagoya and we reached jikka after about one hour of car ride. During the car ride, while I dozed off, hubby had a nice talk about golf with his father. Both are crazy about golf. After reaching the jikka, me and hubby went to visit his mother's grave to offer our prayers. We also prayed at the family altar in jikka, and my father-in-law offered some food items (cucumber?) at the altar, lit incense sticks, and read some sutras. My hubby and father-in-law's wife also chanted the sutras in unison. Unfortunately, I cannot read Japanese language and so only observed the prayer rituals. We all were sitting in the Japanese kneeling style (seiza) for the prayers, and after about 2-3 min I was extremely uncomfortable. After the prayers were over, it was difficult for me to stand up as my legs were completely numb! Later in the evening, four of us had a very tasty dinner of sushi and sashimi.

Garden in front of hubby's ancestral home (jikka)

Father-in-law and his wife in front of jikka

Hubby offering prayers at his mother's grave

Buddhist altar at jikka

Dinner began with sushi

The next day, my father-in-law, his wife, and my hubby went to play golf at six in the morning. They were going to return only in the evening. I was going to meet my sister-in-law later in the day. So I just lazed around. I read a few pages of a novel, drank tea, and watched television. My sister-in-law came with her kids at 11 am and we had lunch of doughnuts and riceballs. Oh, both my nieces are so cute. I had a nice fun time with them. Afterwards when my hubby returned from playing golf, we went to see a nearby tower, which is a tourist spot. In the evening we all had a sumptuous dinner in a chinese restaurant. It was funny to see my three year old niece eat using chopsticks.

My adorable younger niece

Cutie pie older niece

Sister-in-law and kids playing with blocks

Hubby posing in front of tower

Picture perfect postcard image of golf course

On 15th August, my father-in-law and hubby went to play golf for half a day. I had a nice time chatting with my father-in-law's wife. Soon it was time for us to return back to Akita. We reached back Akita tired but filled with a sense of fulfilment for carrying out our traditional family duties.

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