お盆 (おぼん/obon) is a festival held by the Japanese in the summer in honor of one's ancestors. Traditionally, it is held over a three-day period in the summer. The event is intended to be celebratory as well as solemn. It generally includes dances by men, women and children called 盆踊り (ぼん おどり/bon odori) folk dancing on a platform known as a やぐら (yagura). The one here includes drumming by 浮腫太鼓 (ふしゅ・だいこ/fushu daiko) as well. On the last night, it is believed that the ancestors depart for the otherworld. These departures are typically marked by illuminated paper lanterns adorned with the names of ancestors, as well as farewell messages.
There is one held (somewhat) near me annually at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. The one here took place about 2 weeks ago. The photos in this post are from this year and last year's festival.
Some of the dancers preparing before the show.
Setting up for the drumming show.
Fushu Daiko drummers.
The scenery was absolutely beautiful.
Me enjoying some sake on a hot day.
My lovely wife-to-be in front of a beautiful garden.
More of the garden.
The garden also had waterfalls in some places.
Another view of the waterfall.
More of the garden.
One of the many gardens.
Some kanji for studies as well ^^
Part of a rock garden.
Another section of the garden with some bamboo.
Another view across the lake. They had these globe-like lights all over, which really helped to see at night.
A platform containing the paper lanterns to be launched later at night.
More dancing, though this time later in the evening. It was really fun to watch.
These lanterns were strung up around the gardens and lit the landscape beautifully at night.
Another view across the lake with the sun setting. Probably shouldn't have used flash on this one. ^^
What festival would be complete without noms? These were 3 flavours of もち (mochi), which were filled with ice cream and frozen. Nothing is mote refreshing on a hot August night.
Japanese festival fuel! These two are easily some of my most favourite Japanese drinks. ^^
One of the taiko drums on display.
A banner for the Fushu Daiko.
As mentioned earlier, the lanterns are launched into the water at the end of the evening. Here are a couple shots of this.
More of the lanterns.
Is there an Obon Festival where you live?