Thursday, October 21, 2010


As I wrote in the previous two posts, hubby and I stayed in Tokyo on August 11th and in the evening of August 12th we went to hubby’s ancestral home in Ichinomiya city. From Tokyo we took Shinkansen bullet train and reached Nagoya at about 9 pm. From there we took a local train and reached hubby’s home in Ichinomiya by 10 pm. On reaching hubby’s ancestral home, we immediately retired to bed as we were rather tired due to sightseeing and travel.

Every year during Obon in mid August, hubby and I visit hubby’s ancestral home. 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 welcome the spirits of ancestors, graves are visited, and food offerings are made at home family altars. At the end of Obon, floating lanterns are put into rivers, lakes, and seas so that the spirits can return back into their world. The customs followed vary considerably from region to region. Obon is celebrated from the 13th to the 15th of August every year.

On 13th August, my hubby, father-in-law, and his wife got up at about 4.45 am, got ready, and left home at 5.30 am to go for playing golf. I preferred to stay at home and relax as I am not much interested in golf. I spent the entire day lazing around. I read a few pages of a novel, drank several cups of tea, and watched television. At about 4.30 pm, hubby, father-in-law, and his wife returned back home after playing golf. After half an hour or so, we all prayed at the family altar to welcome the soul of my late mother-in-law and all the ancestors, which is the purpose of Obon. My father-in-law offered some food items 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.

Later in the evening, we all went for dinner at a local sushi restaurant. Hubby’s sister, who lives nearby, joined us for dinner. Her daughters also accompanied her. It was nice to chat with relatives and play with the daughters of my sister-in-law. Both nieces of hubby are so cute. We had a nice evening and enjoyed having a tasty dinner of sushi and sashimi.
Cute daughters of hubby’s sister

My sister-in-law and her elder daughter having dinner

My sister-in-law and her younger daughter having dinner

Father-in-law and his wife having dinner

Hubby and I along with my father-in-law and his wife

The next morning, my hubby, father-in-law and his wife, and I visited the home of my father-in-law’s eldest brother who lives nearby. It is the main ancestral home of ‘Nagata family’. There is an amazingly exotic family altar where father-in-law prayed to welcome the souls of his late parents and all the ancestors. We all also prayed at the altar. I saw the photos of hubby’s grandparents for the first time and realized that hubby resembles both his grandparents a lot! In fact, hubby looks like a perfect combination of his grandparents. I also saw the family crest of ‘Nagata family’. In olden times, men and women of ‘Nagata family’ used to have the family crest mark on their kimonos. We had a nice time chatting with hubby’s eldest uncle and his wife over snacks and cups of green tea.
Family altar at the home of the eldest uncle of hubby

Hubby’s relatives in front of the family altar

Another view of the family altar

Food offerings to welcome the souls of ancestors

Father-in-law praying to welcome the souls of ancestors

Photographs of hubby’s grandparents near the family altar

Family crest of ‘Nagata-family’

Hubby’s eldest uncle

After about 1.5 hours, we left the home of hubby’s uncle. Afterwards hubby and I visited my mother-in-law’s grave and offered our prayers. Hubby cleaned the gravestone with water, offered flowers, and lit some candle and incense sticks.
Hubby praying at his mother’s grave

I am praying at my mother-in-law’s grave

It feels nice to meet our relatives during Obon and gives us a sense of fulfillment for carrying out our traditional family duties. Later in the day, hubby and I visited Inuyama Castle located in a nearby city. I will write about this in the next post.


Laya's Blog said...

Very interesting post. In fact we also observe shradh in India. I loved the pics and yes, the family altar is exotic. Wanted to know what is Sushi and how is it prepared. I have heard about it a lot.

Arpana said...

Lovely post nice to see the pics and kins of yours

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your comment Laya. Yeah, Obon is similar to Shradh pitrupaksh. Infact, earlier it used to fall during the same time as shradh but Japan changed to Gregorian calendar in 1873, and all religious festivals are also celebrated according to the new calendar.

My father-in-law's home also there is a beautiful altar but hubby's uncle really has an exotic one.

Well, sushi is cooked vinegar rice that is commonly topped with raw fish or put into rolls. I have tried to explain briefly about sushi in an earlier post. Do have a look whenever you get time.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your nice comment Arpana...

its from me said...

Its always a pleasure to read ur post because it contains new information. As usual I enjoyed the narration and the pics. Its great the you have become a wonderful bahu to that country.


Hello!!! Mrs.Kundu-Nagata,
I came here accidently while searching for 'Autumn Colors' on the net and landed up in your blog,fast forwarded it and found it to be very interesting.I have a strong desire since my childhood to know more and more about the different lands and culture.
I thought I must stop here and follow one of my younger sisters in Japan to know more about them.

The pics and the homely atmosphere in your home away from home is just wonderful.Really only Indians in the world can so easily adjust and adopt in any part of this planet...I am so happy for you and your family.
God Bless You!!!!.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your comment Venkat(its from me). Glad to know that you liked the post. I am trying to be a good bahu.... ha ha ha..

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your wonderful comment Dr. Yadav. And thanks for following the blog.

Initially I had to get adjusted to many things like food, culture, clothing and many more things... But now yes, I am enjoying the life here.