Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Mantoue (An Obon festival)

I told you last week we were on vacation called "Obon", and it is one of the two longest vacations in a year that Japanese people take. The other is one we have around New Years Eve. As I told you before, this Obon is when the spirits of our ancestors are said to come back, and we have to put food, incense, and flowers on the tombstones of our ancestors.

I came to Ushiku city where the biggest standing Buddha in the world is to see how people were spending this Obon. I'm not a Buddhist, but basically this "Ushiku Jyouen" was accepting any people regardless of their religions. You can see the Buddha is being lighted up, but the lights are on on special occasions only.

The black kanji says "Mantoue", which is the name of the summer festival this Ushiku Jyouen holds annually. Offering food for our ancestors is a religious and rigorous event, but on the other hand we have a sense of festivity during this Obon.

Some people put lanterns called "Tourou" on the rivers to send the spirits of our ancestors back to those rivers where our ancestors belong. But at this place I saw those lanterns placed in the garden. The black kanji you see on the nearest lantern says "Namu Ami Dabutsu", which is a kind of Buddhism prayer said to save the spirits of the dead. We also hear Buddhism monks saying the same prayer during funerals.

At the gate to the garden I saw this smaller standing Buddha.

Those who have seen Japanese anime should have seen people enjoying buying some food from stalls like this. This stall was selling "Takoyaki" and "Yakisoba". I introduced the former in this posting. The latter is fried noodles seasoned with Worcester sauce.

And this was selling shaved ice. I showed what it was in this posting last year. I think it sells a lot when it's too hot. It was about 33 degrees Celsius on the night.

I saw a talk show taking place. She said she was famous enough to be on TV, which I doubted as I hadn't seen her before.

And the main event of this festival is this fireworks show. It seemed special to me since the fireworks exploded just beside the Buddha. 

And please take a look at this fireworks show by clicking the video that I've just uploaded. The announcement made before the shots is the names of the people who devoted those fireworks.