On hot summer days, central Tokyo holds the most spectacular Obon festival in Japan.
The Yasukuni Shrine is decorated with more than 30,000 traditional Japanese lanterns, from the great Torii to the main gate to the shrine. The Obon is the festival in which for three days the spirits of family, friends and ancestors return to earth to visit their loved ones and celebrate with them.
In Japan it is celebrated on different dates depending on the region, and in Kanto, where Tokyo is located, it is celebrated in mid-July.
The Yasukuni Shrine has been performing the famous “Mitama Matsuri” (Festival of Souls) since 1947. Thousands of people both from Japan and foreign people visit this festival, annually giving the figure of 300,000 visitors approximately.
The Mitama Matsuri runs from July 12 to July 16. On those days, the Yasukuni Shrine offers a wide range of activities, aimed at all ages. Normally in the morning, the Kudanshita area neighborhood community performs traditional dances to welcome the spirits.
Later in the afternoon, the lanterns shine and the Omikoshi (Portable Shrine) is carried by the men of the community across the wide street of the Shrine compound.
Then there are also musical activities or martial arts performances at the Shrine’s Noh Theater. At nightfall, the Mitama Matsuri enters its maximum point of beauty, giving the visitor the opportunity to reconnect in peace and happiness with their loved ones who are in the other world.
In the place where the statue of Omura Masujiro is located, all the visitors gather, usually dressed in Yukata (Casual Summer Kimono) for the “Bon Dori”, the Obon dance. The Bon Dori is made to receive the spirit of the deceased and feel their presence again in the earthly world. The dance tends to be simple but very fun and upbeat.
In the internal precincts of the sanctuary, paintings and drawings made by various artists and even by children are displayed to represent the importance of art within the spiritual world.
The main door has the traditional decoration of the tanabata festival.
The lanterns are not only found on the outskirts, but also small lanterns make a beautiful path that permeates the entire spiritual space with light and serenity.
This is a great festival and one of the most important of the whole year, where people of all ages gather to give thanks for peace and celebrate with love the visit of those beings who are no longer with us on the plane. earthy