Home > Japan In-depth > Cultural Quintessence > KIE > MATSURI > Seirei

Seirei

Cultural Quintessence

Japan In-depth

Kateigaho International Edition

Seirei
Welcoming ancestral spirits

Seirei, spirits or souls, are welcomed home to visit for the three-day Buddhist festival of the dead, O-Bon. Family members traditionally reunite in their hometowns to honor ancestors with special offerings and lanterns at graves and butsudan, household altars. Temples and communities entertain visiting spirits with music and dance, before ritually seeing them off.

Chankoko Odori

On Saganoshima, chanting and drumming accompany a ritual dance, nembutsu odori, performed on the island's volcanic rock shore to simultaneously invoke Amida Buddha and welcome returning ancestral spirits.

Shaara-bune

On the last day of O-Bon, the ships filled with food offerings from family altars are towed out into the bay, symbolically sending off prayers and the visiting ancestral spirits.

Chankoko Odori

On Japan's southern islands O-Bon retains an exotic flavor, almost unchanged for centuries. In Tamanoura in the Goto Islands, grass-skirted musicians parade through the village, pausing to dance at the grave of the local medieval lord, as well as at the homes of those who have lost a family member during the past year. The ancient rite adopted from China is named for the chan sound of finger cymbals and the ko-ko of drumming with which the spirits of ancestors are welcomed.

Chankoko Odori
Dates: August 13,14,15
Place: Fukue-shi, Nagasaki
Tel. 0959-72-7862 (Education Board of Fukue-shi)

Shaara-bune

The people of Nishinoshima construct great straw "spirit ships" with a coiled prow ornament representing an elephant trunk, one of Buddhism's symbols. Kids prepare thousands of little paper prayer flags which they carry around from house to house to be inscribed to Buddha. In return for their efforts, they are given sweet treats, particularly at the homes memorializing the first Bon after a death. These so-called tsuzuki-bata are strung together and suspended to simulate sails.

Shaara-bune
Dates: August 16
Place: Starting from Urago, Nishinoshima-cho, Oki-gun,Shimane
Tel. 08514-6-0021 (Tourist Association of Nishinoshima-cho)



(C) Kateigaho International Edition All Right Reserved.Top