This is a major Buddhist festival in Japan's calendar and takes place for three days every summer.
It is believed that the spirits of ancestors visit their relatives during the midsummer. Welcoming fires, known as 'mukaebi', or lanterns are lit at the beginning of the festival to guide the spirits to their ancestral homes. Offerings of food and gifts are made in special home altars. It is an important time for families to get together and honour the spirits of family members who came before them. Buddhist priests are sometimes asked to attend homes to say special prayers for the ancestors, and older members of the family may tell stories and recall memories of them. Obon ends with fires, known as 'okuribi', or lit lanterns, which are placed in rivers, lakes and seas to guide the spirits back.
In some parts of Japan, especially in Okinawa City, at the end of the three days the Eisa festival takes place. This is part of the ceremony to bid farewell to the ancestors. There are drummers, dancers, sanshin players and flag-bearers.