Thursday, August 18, 2011

Obon and Stephen Jones

Sorry for my recent disappearance.  I am still alive, honest, I have just been super busy.  Last week was Obon holidays here in Japan.  Obon is a Buddhist festival usually celebrated around August 15th for three days.  It is sometimes referred to as the "Day of the dead" and some will describe it as the Japanese Halloween however this is a little misleading as the purpose of the festival is to honour and pray for the family's ancestors.  It is the time of year when the spirit of departed family members return to earth and the home for a visit.

Obon is also called the Feast of Lanterns.  Japanese people visit their family graves and wash the stones, place flowers and incense and pray.  They also light lanterns beside the grave for the three nights of Obon to show that the spirits have returned. these lanterns combined with lanterns around the temple and over the temple gates make this a really beautiful time to see Japanese temples and graveyards even if it is a little macabre.  In addition, in some areas of Japan at the end of Obon they light  small paper lanterns and float them down the river to send the spirits back home.

For us this meant a trip to visit our monk, a morning cleaning the Sugahara family tomb and lots and lots of food as the clan descended on mass for the long weekend.  Much fun, little blogging.

As well as Obon I was busy desperately trying to finish my entry for the Stephen Jones Millinery competition I mentioned a few months ago.  My finished hat (above) is called the resurrection of the lotus and was influenced by the MASSIVE lotus flowers in the pond at our local temple. The voting section of the competition finishes Today and Stephen Jones's decision will be announced on the 26th of August.  As much as I am happy with my hat and would love to win I would quite happily lose to any of the amazing hats from fellow entrants below. So many of these hats leave me thinking; how the hell did they do that?

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