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8/12 - Obon Festival at Shofuso

Hello everyone. Have you ever heard of Obon? It's a series of summer events in Japan based on Buddhist and ancestral worship that enshrine and celebrate the spirits of ancestors. (Some people call it a Japanese version of Halloween.) Typically, people return to their hometowns to celebrate Obon in July or August, depending on the region and their Obon period, each year. (Around Kanto region, they tend to have it between 7/13 and 7/16, while most regions all over Japan have it between 8/13 and 8/16.) Families gather, clean their graveyard and the shrine in their house, and light lanterns to welcome the spirits home. After the spirits spend a few days with family, the bon-odori dancers form a circle under the lanterns to guide the spirits back to the otherworld.

The Philadelphia Obon Festival includes bon-odori folk dances with Seabrook Minyo Dance Group, and taiko drumming performances by KyoDaiko, Hoh Daiko (Seabrook Buddhist Temple) and Casual Fifth. Attendees can also enjoy arts and crafts, a yukata dressing station, as well as a vendor market; yes, Maido will be there! The event will take place outside of Shofuso and is free and open to the public. Regular admission is required to visit Shofuso, and a separate ticket is required to participate in the Obon Lantern Lighting Ceremony.

In the event of inclement weather, Obon will be rescheduled to Sunday, August 13.


3 PM Performance by Taiko Workshop Participants & Welcome Remarks 3:10 PM Bon Odori 4 PM Kyo Daiko 4:25 PM Bon Odori 5 PM Hoh Daiko 5:25 PM Bon Odori 6 PM Casual Fifth


Lansdowne Dr & Horticultural Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19131 215-878-5097

We will be selling our famous onigiri rice balls, Japanese snacks, and beverages! (The images are from Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival this past spring.)


Mukaebi Welcoming Fire & Okuribi Farewell Fire

Mukaebi is fire to welcome the spirits of ancestors. Okuribi is fire to guide ancestors' spirits back to the grave. People sometimes use lanterns instead of welcoming and farewell fires - you can experience it at this festival. The Philadelphia Obon Festival continues a new Shofuso tradition, to light lanterns and float them on Shofuso’s pond. They will do the welcoming fire on Saturday, August 12 (Rain date: Sunday, August 13) and the farewell fire on Saturday, August 19 (Rain date: Sunday, August 20). Those nights of remembrance and commemoration are dedicated to those no longer with us. Each registered participant will be able to choose if they would like to launch floating lanterns on Shofuso’s pond or simply observe the serenity of the experience. You can get the ticket(s) for the Obon Lantern Floating Ceremony on the Shofuso's website.

At some houses in Japan, the welcome fire and farewell fire are done by burning ogara at the gate of the house or at graves for ancestors to be able to find their families easily. The welcoming fire is usually held on the evening of July or August 13th, and the farewell fire is usually held on the evening of July or August 16th. (July or August depends on the region, as mentioned above.)

*** There is a lot of food items, housewares, stationery, and gifts available at the store and our online store, Maido! Kairashi Shop, where you can place your order for shipping or store pickup! Happy shopping. :)


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