Obon: Nishi Hongwanji

Obon in America is a curious thing. To me, they’re more like natsu matsuri—a summer festival—than a traditional obon. I wonder how obon in America evolved (and continues to evolve) over the years…

In Japan, obon is observed from July 13–15, a time when families come together and welcome home the spirits of their ancestors. I remember we would visit the family grave to wash and scrub our family headstone, light incense, place a bouquet of flowers, and say a prayer. We would then go home and light a small fire in front of the house, to guide the spirits home.


Our second obon of the year was at Nishi Hongwanji on First Street. I got 6 tomatoes for $1.00 at the farmer’s market booth (!) and we took advantage of the variety of food—chirashi zushi, charsiu bao, chili rice (with a hot dog), and a bag of Okinawa dango.


A word about this dango…

I waited patiently in line, and with just one person ahead of me, they ran out. No! But they were making more (whew!). A few minutes passed, and I was starting to get impatient. But all those feelings disappeared when I was handed the warm, grease-stained bag. I knew it was worth the wait. A very generous sprinkling of cinnamon sugar, and I was good to go. This dango was crispy and sweet on the outside, soft and dense on the inside. Lo~ved it.



Upcoming obons:
July 18–19: Orange County Buddhist Church
July 18–19: Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple
July 25–26: Higashi Hongangi Buddhist Temple
July 25–26: West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple
August 1–2: Gardena Buddhist Church

Click here for more obon festivals happening in the U.S. this summer.

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One Comment

  1. Posted July 17, 2009 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    Oh, I am getting hungry… The okinawa dango ..mm yummy… I wish I could visit and spend sometime in Japan during the summer. I love natsumatsuri and fireworks.!!

    Have a great weekend! oxox

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