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2019 Annual O-Bon: Sapporo Cultural Festival - Portland Japanese Garden (Aug 15 - 18, 4 Days) Newly Listed

SELECT DISTINCT e.PkID, e.Title, e.StartDate, e.StartTime, e.EndTime, e.TBD, e.Description, e.LocID, l.Name, l.Lat, l.Lon, e.SeriesID FROM hc_events e LEFT JOIN hc_locations l ON (e.LocID = l.PkID) WHERE (e.SeriesID = '895' OR e.LocID = '895') AND e.IsActive = 1 AND e.IsApproved = 1 AND e.StartDate >= '2020-09-26' ORDER BY e.Title, e.StartDate, e.TBD, e.StartTime
Date: Saturday, 17 August, 2019       Time: All Day
Portland Japanese Garden
611 S.W. Kingston Ave.
Portland, OR 97205

Phone: (503) 223-5055
Website: Click to Visit

O-Bon is an annual mid-August festival for commemorating our ancestors. Following Japan's Buddhist traditions, ancestral spirits are believed to return to the world during this season, and the purpose of the O-Bon festival is to unite the living with these spirits. For three days, the spirits of the ancestors are invited home to spend time with their families. Buddhist priests assist families to pray for deceased relatives, in whose honor special offerings are placed on home altars. At the end of this special time, the spirits of the ancestors are sent back to the afterlife in a lively celebration of music, dance, and chanting. This moving event has become an important part of the annual cycle of life among members of the Japanese Garden family over the years.

Dates August 15-18, 2019 - O-Bon, the Spirit Festival
1) Aug 15-16, 2019 Thu & Fri: Members only: The quiet reverence of the toro-nagashi ( 灯籠流- / lantern floating) with Reverend Kodachi will continue to be reserved for Garden Members only

2) Aug 17, 2019 Sat: Open to public: The Garden will celebrate the more lively aspects of the festival including the bon-odori ( 盆踊り / Bon dance) plus additional music, food, and drinks.

3) Aug 18, 2019 Sun: Open to public. Garden will have special music duo, Wacocoro Brothers from Hokkaido. Wacocoro Brothers will have festive music concerts.

August 15-18, 2019 Details 

August 15 & 16, 2019
Members only, and Garden focus more on respective nature of this Spirit festival, namely we do: lantern floating, name reading, and chanting. You need to 'purchase' $0 ticket to attend these 2 days. Tickets will be released around mid July.

August 17, 2019
Open to public. Garden will focus on festive character of Spirit Festival. We will have music, dance, and ramen noodle food cart. No chanting, name reading, nor candle floating. You don't have to purchase ticket to attend this festival, but you need to buy food ticket if you want to buy ramen.

Schedule for August 17, 2019

Opening Ceremony in Courtyard: 10:30 am to 11 am
Ramen & beer sold in Courtyard: 11 am to 6:30 pm (Ramen limited to 250 servings)
Pacific Music Quartet in Courtyard: 11 am to 11:30 am
Wacocoro Brothers in Courtyard: 12 pm to 12:30 pm
Wacocoro Brothers in Courtyard: 1 pm to 1:30 pm
Ramen Talk in Cultural Corner: 1:30 pm to 2:15 pm
Wacocoro Brothers in Courtyard: 3 pm to 3:30 pm
Wacocoro Brothers in Courtyard: 4 pm to 4:30 pm
Bon-Odori in Courtyard: 4:30 pm to 5 pm
Wacocoro Brothers in Courtyard: 5:30 pm to 6 pm
Bon-Odori in Courtyard: 6 pm to 6:30 pm
Ramen and Beer ends: 6:30 pm

August 18 , 2019
Open to public, and Garden will have live music concert by Wacocoro Brothers.


Based on the day 

Reservations Start
Reservations Required; Space is limited - Check in July

O-Bon, the Festival of Lanterns
'O-Bon is a time to reflect on one's own immortality and remind ourselves that we are not alone, but that we are members of a vast and ancient society made up of both our forbearers and of future generations.' - from a Japanese Garden Member O-Bon at a temple in Nara, Japan. 

O-Bon is the name of a Buddhist memorial festival that dates back more than 1300 years in Japan. On three days in mid-August, families gather to pray for the spirits of their ancestors, a reminder of the importance of family ties, of respect for those who have gone before us, and of the brevity and preciousness of our lives together.

In August, Buddhist services are held at temples and homes throughout Japan to pray for one's ancestors and particularly for those who have died within the past year.

During O-Bon, people invite the spirits of the deceased to rejoin them for a few days on earth. Their presence is deeply felt-some even make this is a time to commune with the spirits, asking advice and communicating with them as they might have when they were still among the living.

Sometimes referred to as the 'Festival of Lanterns,' it is customary during O-Bon to light lanterns at night before the home altar in the zashiki, the main room of the house, to guide the spirits home. Though customs vary from place to place in Japan, rice dumplings and other favorite foods of the departed are also prepared and offered to the spirits for their journey back to the Meido, the Celestial World of Darkness. A few days before August 13th, people visit the cemetery to clean the family graves and pay their respects.

Traditionally in parts of Tokyo, the head of the family would burn broken pieces of dried hemp reeds in a clay basin in front of the house on the evening of August 13, as a symbol of lighting the passage of spirits to the family reunion. Prayers are recited and the ritual is repeated on August 15 when the spirits are departing. Buddhist priests visit the homes of their parishioners to offer prayers to console the spirits. Rice dumplings and other favorite foods of the departed are also offered.

Tōrō nagashi, or lantern floating, is celebrated in many regions on the last night of the festival. Lanterns are lit and floated down the river or into the sea to guide the spirits of the ancestors home. Other regions of Japan people observe an older custom of celebrating O-Bon by lighting lanterns at the graves of their ancestors and then walking home from the cemetery with the lantern lighting the way for the spirits to come home. In Kyoto, bonfires are lit in the shape of Chinese characters on the hillsides around the city in a dramatic gesture to guide the spirits home.

Bon odori is a traditional, religious folk dance performed in prefectures all around Japan on August 15, the last day of O-Bon. Participants gather around a central stage to dance to the rhythm of taiko drums, cymbals, and flutes. In rural districts, children practice hard in advance all year and look forward to what is, for many, the most delightful festival event of the year. Bon odori is a rhythmic dance done to the beat of taiko drums. Dancers sway and swirl and sing and pose to the beat of the drums often far into the night on this occasion.

O-Bon at the Portland Japanese Garden has always been a special time for us-a time when Garden members gather to honor their own families with a Bon odori dance. At the Garden we join together to remember those who are no longer with us. As Reverend Zuigaku Kodachi chants prayers on the Moon Bridge, we light the tōrō nagashi lanterns and think of our loved ones as we watch the lanterns as they drift across the Upper Pond.


Other Upcoming Oregon Obon Festivals

1) July 20th, 2019, Sat: Japan Nite Obon Festival by Idaho-Oregon Buddhist Temple

2) July 27, 2019, Sat: Eugene Oregon: Annual Obon & Taiko Festival at Alton Park

3) August 3, 2019, Sat: ObonFest! By Oregon Buddhist Temple 

4) August 15-18, 2019: Portland Japanese Garden, O-Bon, the Spirit Festival  


Portland Japanese Garden O-Bon Festival Dates 
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Celebrate the Japanese Culture food, performances and dancing.
(Please always confirm date & times, the schedule could change)


Event Location
Portland Japanese Garden, 611 S.W. Kingston Ave., Portland, OR 97205

Event Title
Annual O-Bon, The Spirit Festival - Portland Japanese Garden (Aug 15 - 18, 4 Days)


Saturday, 17 August, 2019

Event/Festival Contact

Portland Japanese Garden Office
Phone: (503) 223-1321
Website: Click to Visit

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