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.
As mentioned earlier, the lanterns are launched into the water at the end of the evening. Here are a couple shots of this.
Is there an Obon Festival where you live?