Halloween Equivalent in Japan

Today is Halloween.  A block from our house is one of the busiest streets in Seattle on Halloween night.  In recent years I have seen so many kids and adults drive up this street from other parts of the city to enjoy “trick or treat”ing.

Well, although having lived in the US over 25 years, Halloween still remains a rather strange event for me.  Had I been a kid to be first exposed to trick or treat, I would have fully enjoyed it.  But I was too grown up.  What is the origin? Why do you have to put on a costume of a scary figure? Only many questions came up about Halloween.

So I looked up Wikipedia.  According to Wikipedia, Halloween“ begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs, and all the faithful departed. “

The time dedicated to remembering the dead… With that I can relate.  In Japan, Obon is the equivalent event to Halloween.  When I was a kid, my family and relatives used to visit our ancestors’ graves and paid tributes to those who were no longer on the earth.  My great grandparents, then my grandma, grandpa, then my aunts and uncles.  But Obon is in August, not in October.

The Obon in Kyoto is well known for the bonfire on five hills.  Each one has distinct characters or symbols.  In my childhood, I was told that they light up the pathway so that the dead people won’t get lost when they come back to earth or go back to where they are now.

Now I know this loose connection between Halloween and Obon, I will have a twisted enjoyment tonight.


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