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日本語メモ Nihongo Memo

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お盆 (おぼん) - Obon Festival


Obon is a traditional Buddhist festival which takes place throughout Japan around August 15 (July 15 in the lunar calendar). At this time, people visit their ancestors' graves, welcome the ancestors' spirits home with food and offerings and then see the spirits off.  Bon-odori (Obon dancing) and other Obon-related activities are also conducted to console and entertain the ancestors' spirits. Obon is one of the most important annual events. When something very joyful or auspicious happens, Japanese say "It's like Obon and the New Year have come all at once."



The following is a collection of links to Obon web pages

specially selected for teachers and students of Japanese.


General explanation about Obon in Japanese - おぼんについて(日本語)

Site 1 Good webpage explaining Obon from "原点〜今の私たちをつくるもの〜" website.
Site 2 Good Obon-explanation from "飛不動尊 正宝院 (a Buddhist temple)" website.
Site 3
Simple explanations of Obon related topics from "滝田商店 (a Buddhist altar manufacturer)" website.
Site 4-a
& Site 4-b
Simple explanations of Obon-related topics from "Mycal Saty" online shopping website.
Site 5
Detailed explanations of Obon-related tyopics from the website of "提灯ドットコム(a lantern manufacturer)". Click on items on the left-hand side box. 
Site 6
Comprehensive website called "盆踊りの世界" which tells you about everything you want to know about Bon-odori/Bon-dancing.
 (If you need some vocabulary help, try "Rikai" or  "Reading Tutor". These are great online translation tools.)


General explanation about Obon in English - おぼんについて(英語)


Site 1
Website explaining Obon-related topics created by two students at Mount Union College in the US. Go to this page, scroll down and click on each of three items ("What is Obon", "Origin of Obon" and "How to celebrate").
Site 2 English explanation webpage about Obon from "About" website.
Site 3-a  
& Site 3-b
Simple explanations about obon-related topics from "Nova (an English conversation school)" website.
Site 4 Good Bon-odori explanation from "Japan-101" website
Site 5Simple English explanation of Okuribi (Daimonjiyaki) from "Kyoto Prefecture" website.
Site 6
Brief explanation of Shoryo-nagashi (Tourou-nagashi) from "Ajinomoto - 日本の伝統と習慣" website.
Site 7 Brief History and Meaning of Bon Odori from "Buddhist Church of San Francisco" website.


Obon photos - おぼんの写真


Site 1

Great collection of Bon-odori photos of different Bon-odori festivals from "盆踊りの世界" website. Go to this page and click on items under "写真集". Many Bon-odori video clips are also available under "動画集" (You need Windows Media Player on your PC and also need broadband access to the Internet).  
Site 2 Bon-odori photos from "下館市 (Shimodate City)" website.
Site 3  Bon-odori photos from "荒木町 (Araki Township)" website.
Site 4
Tourou-nagashi (see above "English explanations - Site 6") photos from "羽村市の灯篭流し (Hamura City Tourou-nagashi)" website.
Site 5

A series of good photos of Kyoto Gozan Okuribi (Daimonjiyaki) from "古都からのそよ風" website. Okuribi (Daimonjiyaki) is a special way to farewell the visiting ancestors back to their spirit world (See above "English explanations - Site 5") . 
Site 6
A photo catalogue of family Buddhist altars and lanterns commonly used for Obon festival from "滝田商店 ( A Buddhist altar article manufacturer)" website.
Site 7
Video clips of "長崎精霊流し (Nagasaki Shoryo-nagashi)" festival from "長崎市 (Nagasaki City)" website. Click on each photo to download the video clips (You need Windows Media Player on your PC and also need broadband access to the Internet).  


Obon activities, etc - おぼんのアクティビティなど


Site 1 
(Site 1-a)   
(Site 1-b)   
This is the website of "飛騨高山ちょけらまいか大仮装盆踊り大会 (Hida Takayama Chokeramaika Costume Bon-odori Dancing Contest)". Participants are required to master the prescribed dance before the contest. Looks like great fun!  
Go to this page and click on "
ちょけらまいか 踊りの基本パターン" to go to the illustrated prescribed dance explanation page.   The music for the dance sounds like mixture of traditional bon-odori music and pop music. 
To download the mp3 sound file, click on "
ちょけらまいか音楽ダウンロード (mp3/3.6MB)" on the same web page. If you would like to save the sound file, right-click on "ちょけらまいか音楽ダウンロード (mp3/3.6MB)", click on "Save Target As...", designate the location for the file, then click on "Save".    
Site 2-a

Site 2-b
Site 2-a   Illustrated explanation of how to dance "Tankoubushi - 炭鉱節 (a popular bon-odori dance)" from "田川市 (Tagawa City)" website.   
Site 2-b   There are lyrics and an mp3 sound file available for "Seicho Tankoubushi -
正調炭鉱節" from the same website. (Click on the image of the lady with kimono and  shamisen for the mp3 file. If you would like to save the sound file, right-click on the image, click on "Save Target As...", designate the location for the file, then click on "Save". 
"Okonomiyaki" is one of the typical food stall items sold at Bon-odori venues. Download the recipe and try it!  
Another favorite Bon-odori festival food is "Yakisoba noodle" and the easiest way to try this is to cook an instant Yakisoba noodle pack, which is usually available at Japanese and Asian food stores.  (For those who live in Victoria, Australia, click here for the list of Japanese food stores in Melbourne.)


おぼん ワークシート(日本語)
Obon Worksheet  (English)    


To Nenchugyoji page


This page updated August 2, 2004

Please email Shunko Muroya if there are any dead links.