We went to Obon last week at the Ushiku Daibutsu. Obon is the time of year when family members who have passed away are said to return for a brief period. Lanterns are lit for them to find their way to and from the cemeteries and they return to their former homes. Most people in Japan return to their hometowns for Obon, to be with their families during this time. As one acquaintance told me, he had to go home for Obon this year because it was his grandmother's first Obon. She had died last year.
The beginning of the night is full of drumming and horseplay onstage.
It's not the seemingly somber atmosphere one might expect from a festival for the dead. There are food stalls and games to play.
It's later in the evening, when the lanterns are being lit and the monk's begin chanting that things become a bit more serious.
As the night grew darker, the lanterns glowed an orange red color.
And soon everything was lit by lantern light alone.
To give you an idea of how big the Daibutsu is, you can see here that the lanterns, which hung on poles roughly at the height of my shoulders, contrasted below the Buddha's height. The Daibutsu is three times taller than the Statue of Liberty. It's in the Guinness Book of World Records as the tallest Buddha in the world. It's construction was completed in the early nineties.
Towards the end of the night it was spotlighted for everyone.
And there were of course fireworks to cap everything off.
Tomorrow I climb Mount Fuji. Later this week, I move apartments, so things will be sparse here for a while, till I get back into the swing of things at school in another week and a half and find my feet again. Hope everyone is well.