Segments in this Video

Obon Odori All Souls Day Overview (02:41)


See a description of the Buddhist-Confucian custom that has evolved into a family reunion holiday. See foods prepared for relatives who died during the year and placed on their altar. Hear a translation of the Heart Sutra helping to understand ku, or emptiness.

Obon Odori Final Day (05:51)

Monks assign new names written on toro lantern name plates. Families of recently deceased attend a temple ceremony and burn lanterns on a beach for spirits to ascend. Hear a description of cleaning homes and graves and offering foods.

Obon Odori Myth (01:07)

See a description of how the All Souls Day festival originated in India.

Obon Odori Kawaguchiko (04:35)

On a school grounds, families buy meals and balloons from vendors; children dress in kimonos. A song about a soldier leaving for war is broadcast.

Obon Odori Dances (14:07)

Every region has a dance based on local work movements. Dancers move in a circle around a central stage; children learn the moves at an early age. Songs reference soldiers, coal mining, the beauty of Buddha and Tokyo, and the Mt. Fuji area.

Obon Odori Second Day, Oishi Park (05:48)

Families gather at a playground next to a temple. Taiko drummers lead a circle dance around a central stage.

Obon Odori Third Day, Lakeside Service (06:49)

See a description of a lantern floating festival at Mt. Fuji and an explanation of the Lotus Sutra and shomyo chanting. People gather to witness lanterns and fireworks.

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Obon Odori All Souls Day

DVD (Chaptered) Price: $199.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $299.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $199.95



The return of the dead in August, Obon has been celebrated since the introduction of Buddhism into Japan in the 6th century during the reign of the Empress Suiko. It is an annual Buddhist ceremony during which ancestral spirits are believed to come back to visit. This program by anthropologist Barrie Machin documents the rituals and beliefs of this celebration in which people honor the dead, proffer food and dance to them, and hang lanterns in front of their houses to guide the spirits. It is also a time when ghost stories are told to cool the living during the hottest summer month. Because so many Japanese have left home it is a time of renewal of social relations.

Length: 42 minutes

Item#: BVL192070

ISBN: 978-1-64623-779-1

Copyright date: ©2007

Closed Captioned

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