Bon Festival

DatesMid August around the 13th - 15th
3 days
Starting timesAll day
Location /
Getting There
Various locations throughout every city.

Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of ancestors. It has been celebrated in Japan for over 500 years and is known as a time for family. It is a time of family reunion, where the graves of ancestors are visited and cleaned. It also includes a celebration involving a Bon dance (Bon Odori). This festive dance was originally a folk dance to welcome the spirits of the dead. The dance takes place around a high wooden scaffold called a ‘yagura’. Musicians, playing a Japanese drum (taiko), and singers sit at the top of this yagura to perform for the line of dancers below.

These small festivals are held throughout each city in various places and districts. If you are in Sapporo, the main Bon Festival is held in Odori Park. Plus, there is another in front of the Park Hotel. At these Bon dances, there are stalls selling food and drink  and this goes all day. In the evening the lanterns come to life and the music starts. Anybody is welcome to join the line dance that circles the yagura. This is a great way to get involved with centuries of Japanese culture and make for a great spot to get some video or photos.