Roy Kodani
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Summertime in Japan is synonymous with Obon, the time of the year when the spirits of deceased family members, ancestors and other loved ones return to the world of the living. In Japan, millions of Japanese are on the move during the summer months, returning to their ancestral homes to go ohakamairi (visiting family graves). In Hawai‘i, Obon starts in early June and runs through late August, with each Buddhist temple having its own Obon prayer service and Obon odori, or Obon dance.

Obon odori is danced with joy and happiness to remember and express gratitude to the ancestors and relatives for their sacrifices and dedication to the family lineage. In Japan as well as in Hawai‘i, family gravestones are cleaned and decorated with flowers. Osenko (incense sticks) and food offerings are placed at the graves and prayers are offered for the peaceful repose of the ancestors’ spirits.

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