Obon Festival| Japan’s Day of the Dead

It’s tough to lose someone who we love the most, who we’ve been living with ever since our childhood. Death is a reality that no one can escape. However, if you’re from Japan, you have one day to celebrate, honor, and commemorate your deceased ancestors. 

I’m talking about the Obon festival, a traditional Japanese festival. When is this day celebrated, and what’s the history behind it? To learn about this festival hat, you must go through this article to the end.

If you are interested in learning about more Japanese Festivals/ East Asian Holidays then click on the given link Japanese Festivals/ East Asian Holidays

What’s the Obon Festival?

Obon Festival 2024 (An Exciting Guide About Bon Holiday)

This festival also known as the Bon festival, is a Japanese Buddhist event that is celebrated not only in Japan but also in other states of America where the population of Japanese people is quite a lot. This festival is celebrated to honor and commemorate the deceased ancestors, as on this particular day, Japanese people believe that the departed souls come back to earth and visit the homes of their loved ones. 

So, to welcome them and please them, this beautiful day is made which celebrates and owner them. This festival is one of the biggest traditional Japanese festivals celebrated in August in which people go to their loved ones’ graves, clean and decorate them, and offer food and other things.

History of Obon Festival

Obon Festival 2024 (An Exciting Guide About Bon Holiday)

This festival of Japanese Buddhists was made thousands of years ago in the era of Maudgayana, who was Buddha. The festival was made because of the story in Mahayana Buddhist scriptures. The Japanese Obon Festival has deep roots in Japanese Buddhist tradition and has evolved over time. 

Maudgalyayana uses supernatural powers to see his dead mother suffering from hungry ghosts. Buddha told him to make offerings to the Buddhist monks who had just finished their summer retreat so he could help her. By doing so, Maudgalyayana was able to free his mother from suffering. It is when the festival came up. Now the question is, in how many states is this festival celebrated? Let’s talk about that now.

In how many states is the Obon festival celebrated?

Obon Festival 2024 (An Exciting Guide About Bon Holiday)

Obon is one of the few festivals that aren’t only celebrated in Japan but also in many states of America where a large majority of people are Japanese. The states where this festival is celebrated are:

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • San Francisco, CA
  • Honolulu, HI
  • Seattle, WA
  • Chicago, IL
  • New York, NY
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Washington, DC

When is Obon Japan Festival 2023,2024,2025, and 2026?

The dates of the Obon Festival 2023, 2024,2025 and 2026 are mentioned in the table:

YearObon Festival
2023August 4-6
2024August 3-5
2025August 2-4
2026August 1-3

How do people celebrate the Bon festival?

Obon Festival 2024 (An Exciting Guide About Bon Holiday)

So, How does Japan celebrate the Day of the Dead? The Japan Bon festival is observed amazingly in Japan by the lovers of the departed souls. They do the following things to remember their ancestors on this day.

1. Cleaning and decorating graves


To meet the departed souls, people go to their graves, clean, and decorate them. It is done to show respect and love for them.

2. Lighting lanterns


As mentioned above, it’s believed that the spirits of the deceased people visit the homes on this day. Thus, people put Obon lanterns on the trees and the walls so that the spirits don’t find it difficult to find the way home.

3. Performing Bon Odori


To welcome the spirits, Bon Odori, which is a traditional Japanese dance, is done. 

4. Offering food and drink

Obon Festival 2024 (An Exciting Guide About Bon Holiday)

Food and drink are offered to ancestors at the altar and the gravesite. It is a way to show gratitude and to nourish the spirits of ancestors during their journey back home.

5. Family reunions


During the Bon Festival, families get together and celebrate. Shared meals, stories, and memories are shared among families.

This is how Japanese people celebrate this beautiful day. Let me answer some of your questions about this topic.


Obon festival is also known as the Day of the Dead in Japan. This day is celebrated every year in August every single year. People on this day go to the graves of their deceased ancestors, decorate and clean them, and put lanterns on the trees to the way of their homes so that spirits can visit them easily.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the significance of food during the Obon festival in San Jose?

During the Obon festival in San Jose, food holds cultural significance, representing ancestral offerings and communal sharing.

What are some traditional customs associated with Obon festivals in Japan?

Traditional Obon customs include cleaning ancestors’ graves, setting up household altars, and participating in Bon Odori dances to honor departed family members.

How is the Obon festival celebrated in Hawaii?

In Hawaii, the Obon festival features vibrant celebrations with traditional dances, taiko drum performances, and colorful lanterns, reflecting the local Japanese community’s rich cultural heritage.

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