Obon Facts for Kids – 5 Outstanding Facts about Obon

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Updated on: Educator Review By: Michelle Connolly

What do you think happens during the Obon Festival? Come and check our five outstanding Obon facts for kids.

Obon Facts for Kids Fact Number 1: Obon Is a Buddhist Celebration

Obon is a summer celebration in Japan which is all about welcoming back ancestors’ spirits. Obon is a yearly Buddhist festival that respects and celebrates one’s ancestors. During Obon, it is believed that the ancestors’ spirits return to this world in order to visit their relatives.

Obon is also known as Bon and it is one of the most important customs in Japan. Obon brings families together and reunites them with the dead.

Obon Facts for Kids LearningMole
A photo of a happy Japanese family

Obon Facts for Kids Fact Number 2: Obon Can be Celebrated at Different Times of The Year

Unlike other festivals that are celebrated by everyone on the same day every year, Obon is celebrated whenever the family decides. Obon is commonly celebrated on the 15th of August and the celebrations continue for three days.

The Obon festival is celebrated at different times of year in different parts of the country, for example in Tokyo and other eastern cities, Obon is usually celebrated on the 15th of July.

Obon Facts for Kids
Obon Facts for Kids: The Kaminarimon gate in Tokyo, Japan 

Obon Facts for Kids Fact Number 3: Lights Are a Huge Part of Obon

During this time people celebrating Obon light small fires outside their homes. The Japanese believe that this light will help guide the spirits of their ancestors back home. Lanterns are more commonly placed at the entrance of homes. The Japanese lantern used during Obon is called the “chochin”.

Lanterns are made from a bamboo frame covered in washi paper. Chochin are usually  red or white in colour and decorated with Japanese calligraphy (writing). One of the most famous chochin in Japan is at the Sensoji Temple in Tokyo. Have you ever seen this before?

Obon Facts for Kids Fact Number 4: Obon Odori Is a Specific Dance Done During Obon

Dances known as the Obon Odori are always done during Obon. These dances are said to express happiness and joy that the ancestors are free from suffering. Ondo and Japanese music is often played in towns and people can be heard singing on the street.

Dancers dance in small circles around the “yagura”, this is a decorative platform which is usually coloured red and white. Many Japanese regions have their own Obon dances and their own songs to go with it. Most dances consist of a few simple and repetitive steps. Do you think you could do an Obon Odori dance?

Obon Facts for Kids LearningMole
Man and woman performing an artistic dance

Obon Facts for Kids Fact Number 5: Food Offerings Are a Huge Part of Obon

Some special delicacies are served as food offerings during the Obon season. When food is shared with the dead, it is called “ozen”. During Obon, food such as rice, tea, fruit, and sweets is normally served. After offering food to their ancestors, families normally visit the gravesite of their ancestor, where they clean the grave of their loved one with water.

Obon Facts for Kids LearningMole
Rice and tea on brown wooden board

We hope you enjoyed learning more things about Obon as much as we loved teaching you about them. Now that you know how majestic the Obon is, you can move on to learn about world festivals, religions and Myths like: Irish Festival, Festivals in Mexico, Festivals in India, Mexican Tradition, the Day of the Dead in Mexico, Ancient Greek Religion, Anglo-Saxons, Mystical Creatures, Minotaur, Ogres, Midas, Mermaids, 12 Olympians, Celtic Mythology, Zodiac Myths, Cats in Egyptian Mythology, Snakes in Egyptian Mythology, Greek Mythology Books, Greek Mythology Stories, Hideous Creatures, Hecate, Medusa, Athena, Egyptian Gods, Greek Gods, God of Fire in Egypt and Legendary Norse Mythology.

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