Japan: Obon Holiday

As usual my Obon holiday was jam packed! It’s hard to do much during the day as its so so hot. Luckily most of the events we attended were night time activities.


In a short space of time we managed the Nagai Botanical Garden Night Garden, Nara To-kae, our own fireworks in the park, Shitennoji Urabon-e, Uji Cormorant fishing, Awaodori, Ikeda Fireworks and the Dotonbori Bon dance world record attempt!

First we visited Nagai Botanical Gardens night garden event. It was our first time to visit the garden here and the park that houses the garden is quite large, a typical Japanese park – with baseball area and running track.

We had to pay a small fee to enter, I think it was about 300yen, we were there early so we got in line and waited.

As we entered we were ushered towards an area where we did a somen stream, noodles are dropped in the top of a bamboo trough and water flows down taking the noodles on a little trip.


You have to use your chopstick skills to scoop as many as you can. It was ¥100 to try and you were allowed to scoop three times. I have zero chopstick skills so I was quite impressed with my spoils.


We then entered the main area for some live Jazz music. Actually I don’t really like jazz but was only a half hour performance.


When we left after the concert we were surprised to see the lights had been turned off around the park and we were directed towards the exit. Ha. I never got to see the park lit up at all as too light before the jazz concert. How disappointing.

The following day we went to Nara for the To-kae event. I braved the heat and dressed in yukata (as did Rilakkuma).



First we had dinner in a little Mexican place I know and then walked around the main areas.


I’m not really sure we should pick them up but everyone was doing it and so J plonked one in my hands.


A cheeky deer out for some late night cookies.

Once again I really enjoyed Nara To-kae, and even though it was our third(?) visit we still found it fun.


One evening we took our own fireworks (those left over from last year) to Osakajokoen. Infront of the castle we had fun playing with sparklers and Js slow shutter iPod ap.



After the sparklers ran out we made shapes with a torch!


Shitennoji held the Urabon-e event again this Obon.


Paper and wax candles are lit for ancestors and family members that passed away.



Around the back near the turtle pond we found a huge Bon dance taking place!


J wouldnt dance though :(

We also ventured to Uji to watch Cormorant fishing – fishing using birds to catch the fish…post to come separately on that!

The following day was a big one – Awaodori in Tokushima. The biggest dance festival in Japan, which also deserves its own post, not least because I took 1,700 pictures on my DSLR alone.

Super tired from Awaodori the next day we still found it in us to get up after a nap and don yukata for the Ikeda Inagawa fireworks display.


It seems we made a mistake in timing, as when we arrived at 6pm it was already packed. We went to the other side of the river and walked really far down, past the bridge before sitting on a steep slope.

It was really not fun as I kept sliding down, I had to really use my leg muscles to keep me steady…for 1.5hrs. I could barely move for fear of sliding down!



Although it turned out to be a fantastic view, so kind of worth it.

I was really happy to see a big fireworks display this summer as they were cancelled last year due to a typhoon.

For our last day of the holiday we had a few options for events, but as had been to Daimonji in Kyoto before and the other event was too far we went to the Dotonbori Bon Dance in Osaka. This time they were hoping to break the world record for the largest Bon dance.



To be part of it you had to have entered in advance and learnt the dance through YouTube videos. Sadly it was far too late to participate so instead we cheered from the sidelines.


The atmosphere was really good, and all the interesting folk of Osaka were out and about.


We had a small live performance from a semi famous singer and then after the adjudicators counted the people and filled in the appropriate forms they declared a new world record!


2025 people! (Actually only a few people up from the previous record holder).


And that completes my Obon vacation.

2 thoughts on “Japan: Obon Holiday

  1. The Dotonbori Bon Dance seems like a very large event! Do you know if you have to apply to participate in the event every year, or just this year because it was a record attempt? I’m looking forward to the Awaodori photos!

    • That’s a good question! It was my first time to go to the event so I’m not sure. I think anyone can usually joining the day, but you might want to register in advance and learn the dance. The Dotonbori website would probably have the right information nearer the event next year. I hope you go!

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