Monday, August 13, 2007

Obon and The Eel Days of Summer

Obon is the annual Buddhist event held to remember ones ancestors.Its celebrated from the 13th to the 15th of August so we are right in the middle of it as I blog this.
In a nutshell or more appropriately an urn, it is believed that each year during Obon ones ancestors spirits return to visit their relatives.Why they return during the hottest time of the year remains a mystery to me.
Obon is one of the three major Japanese holiday seasons,the others being New Years and Golden Week in May.
Basically its become a week long family break from work where people return to their hometowns and visit and clean their ancestors graves.

If you watch the news or read the papers its also the time where almost lemming-like, families choke the roads to major holiday destinations.Bumper to bumper traffic for 60 odd kilometres on expressways and interchanges isnt uncommon.
There is both an increase in domestic and international travel.Accomodation rates double while marine accidents such as drowning triple in numbers.
The number of heat related cases and heatstroke deaths also increases as mid August temperatures soar around the country following the end of the rainy season.
One way of fending off the heat and maintaining ones energy levels is to partake of eel which is said to fight off summer lethargy.Ive put an example of an eel bento or lunchbox above which is very popular at this time of year.


Kelley Cashen said...

I really enjoyed reading this blog. I have posted a link for my psychology class to see it. Keep up the great work!

Alex Case said...

Sharp point- why don't the ancestors come back when the weather is bearable??

tim said...

Thanks for your kind comments Kelley.If your students have any questions regarding the blog I'll try and answer them as best I can.

tim said...

Hi Alex,thanks for your comment.I think its tradition that dictates when the ancestors spirits decide to return.Personally I think either during the cherry blossom season or even autumn would be better.

Under the old lunar calendar,ancestors visit in the seventh month which roughly equates with August though some students Ive discussed this with say Obon is celebrated in some regions in July which corresponds to the seventh month under the old solar calendar.