One of the great things about the Internet is that you can blast something out to cyberspace for virtually anyone in the world to look at. However, you can quickly make yourself look like an imbecile in the process.
Yesterday I received a message from a friend who said a coworker told her what Obon means. Up to this point I thought it meant August, and I even said that on this site’s about page. Well, it turns out I was completely off. Actually, I was way off. Saying Obon means August is about as right as saying potato means sports utility vehicle.
After reading my friend’s message, the first thing I did was promptly change the August-Obon reference. I honestly couldn’t tell you how I ended up thinking August was the definition for the Obon, nor does that even matter. What matters is that I found out the real meaning behind the word, and now I’m sharing it with you all.
Obon (or just Bon) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors and lasts for three days*. My friend said it’s on par with the Mexican holiday of Día de los Muertos, which makes complete sense now. In their very first email to me, OBON 2015 told me that family members can feel the spirit of their lost family member in the flag. And how could they not? These flags are, in a way, the remains and spirits of the solider.
Obon usually takes place in August, but that’s not always the case. The date depends on the region where it’s being celebrated, because each one bases it off a different calendar. Check out the video below. It’s the Bon Odori, a dance that welcomes the spirits of the dead. Like the date of the festival, the dances differ as well.
Feel free to call me out if any of what I have said is still wrong. But this time I blame Wikipedia though, as that’s where I found the majority of my information.