Summer is a colorful season when a various festivals, ceremonies or rituals are held all over Japan. I would like to introduce two ceremonies based on folk beliefs of Buddhism as my memory of summer in Nara.
One is "Obon(お盆)" and the other is "Jizo-bon or Jizo-e (地蔵盆 or 地蔵会)", both of them are held across the country.
"Obon (お盆) " is the 3-day period of the year from August 13th to 15th when the spirits of the deceased return to this world to spend three happy days with their families. The memorial services are held to dedicate to the spirits. Also "Obon" is a good chance for family gatherings or friend reunions.
On the first day and the last day, Bon fires are made to welcome the spirits and then to say Good-bye to them. I love this belief which gives me a quiet comfort. At least once a year the spirits of the beloved people will come back to see us from the other world. The poem or song "Do not stand at my grave and weep" 千の風になって", like "Obon" makes me feel soothing .
"Do not stand at my grave and weep" translated in Japanese
This is the "Ten Thousand Candle Ceremony, 万燈会" held for Obon on August 15th at
Todai-ji Temple 東大寺. Actually ten thousand candles are lit around Great Buddha Hall.
The window is open two times a year. The illuminated face of Great Buddha
is welcoming us in a warm atmosphere.
smoke from an incense burner
On a lantern, a prayer of a worshiper is written.
a fierce face of one of four directional divine guardians to protect Buddha.
Amazing! The artists used the rings very effectively. Sorry, the photo is not clear.
Many kinds of charms are sold in Great Buddha Hall.
This is "Jizo Bon, or Jizo-e (地蔵盆、地蔵会)" held on August 23rd and 24th at Gango-ji Temple, 元興寺. This ceremony is dedicated to Jizo Bodhisattva who is a guardian deity of people, particularly of children.
This lovely temple has a number of stone statues or tablets of Buddhist deities or pagodas.
Dim glows of candles are flickering and create the peaceful pure land of Jizo.
In the precincts of the temple, there are many temporary stalls for food or games.
This temple is well-known for blooming seasonal flowers.
Early summer Harushagiku or coreopsis are in full bloom.
Late summer bell flowers in bloom
There are five demons which live in this temple with Buddhist deities.
A crescent moon and crape myrtle flowers
my related blog Glory and Tragedy
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