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The Dead Are Returning Home and It’s Time to Party in Japan

みなとみらい大盆踊り

Minato Mirai Bon Dance (みなとみらい大盆踊り) by Flickr user muratama. License: CC BY-SA 2.0.

Every year in mid-August, Japan observes Obon (お盆), the Festival of the Dead, when the dead return to the ancestral home for several days to spend time with the living. Obon typically occurs on August 15 throughout most of Japan. In 2016, August 15 occurred on a Monday, and combined with a new holiday, Mountain Day, on Thursday, August 11, people across the country were able to take a five-day weekend. Many families returned to the countryside to observe Obon.

Bon dances (盆踊り, Bon Odori) are also held all over Japan, as well. These dances are typically held in neighborhood gathering places, such as Shinto shrines, Buddhist temples, public plazas, and even the parking lots of supermarkets.

Many people celebrating upload photographs and videos of their local Bon dances to Instagram.

Shinano Kokubunji Temple grounds, Ueda Nagano #summer #nighttime #festival #Bon dance #temple #temple #ShinanoKokubunji

Typically, Bon dance decorations include strings of lanterns, red and white bunting, and a tower or platform for musicians and a taiko drummer.

#fukuoka #藍島 #nikon #d610 #写真 #photography #夏祭り #盆踊り

A photo posted by SHIBATA HARUNA (@867_48t) on

#AinoIsland #Fukuoka #nikon #d610 #summerfestival #obon

Traditional folk songs are performed live or are played over a loudspeaker.

#盆踊り#積川町#地元#泉州河内音頭#OBON#dance

A video posted by 木村哲也 (@kim.te2.626) on

#Bondance #tsugawacho (Osaka) #countryside #OBON#dance

#SummerIsAlmostOver #Bondance #Japan #chillaxing #hot #summervacation #festival

Everyone in the neighborhood comes out for the Bon dance, especially families with young children.

#盆踊り#息子#笑顔#提灯#やぐら#bonfestivaldance#son#smile#face

A photo posted by miyuki (@me.you_key97) on

#bonfestivaldance #son #smile #face

The annual Bon dance also serves as a neighborhood festival with a carnival atmosphere. There are games to play and different kinds of summer foods to eat, such as kakigori shaved ice.

We went with friends from the neighborhood to the Bon dance, and there were lots of kids there from preschool. They all danced liked crazy. Walking home I had a chance to chat with other mothers.

# kidstagram #sisters# #insta_toddler #thechildrenoftheworld #pixel_kids #kidsfashionforall #cutekidsclub #4yearsold #1yearsold #kids_japan #tv_kidz #kids_of_our_world #beautiful_kids_of_the_world #littleandbrave #minibymini #ministyleblog #instamamme #mamxmam

Some Bon dances in Japan are very elaborate, attracting thousands of spectators. The Awa Odori festival in Tokushima Prefecture is probably the most famous of Japan's Bon dances, attracting at least a million people each year to the city.

Caption: First day of the Awa Odori in Tokushima (August 12, 2016)

Large-scale dances occur throughout Japan. Below, you'll find a summer dance in Kumamoto, on the island of Kyushu―the Yamaga Lantern Festival:

#yamagatoromatsuri #Bondance #dancing #Lanterns #photosthatphotographerslike #photos igersjp #icu_Japan #main_vision #Tokyocameraclub #loves_Nippon #Japan_of_insta

The lights at night are always beautiful:

こないだの町内の盆踊り #祭り #盆踊り #浴衣 #町内のお偉いさんいっぱい

A photo posted by nico 月の輪美容所 (@nicotukinowa) on

The Bon dance in our town.

#Bondance #Obon #AlltheImportantPeopleInOurTown

More photographs of the Bon Dance can be viewed using the Instagram hashtag #盆踊り.

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