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NEW VIRTUAL Event 2020 - 8th Annual Philadelphia Obon Festival Newly Listed

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Date: Saturday, 22 August, 2020       Time: 11:00 am - 5:00 pm
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden
Lansdowne Dr and Horticultural Dr.
Philadelphia, PA 19131

Phone: (215) 878-5097
Website: Click to Visit

2020 Virtual Obon.

Obon is a series of events in Japan that enshrine the spirits of ancestors in the summer that are based on Buddhism and Ancestral worship.

Typically, in Japan, between August 13-15 (depending on the region), people return to hometowns to celebrate Obon each year. Families gather, clean their graveyard, the shrine in the house and light the lanterns to welcome the spirits home on the 13th of August. After the spirits spend a few days with family, on the night of the 16th or 15th depending on the regional tradition, people dance Bon-Odori in a circle under the lanterns to guide the spirits back to the other-world. People often dress in Yukata, Japanese one-layer summer cotton Kimono for the Obon festival.

The eighth annual Philadelphia Obon Festival 2020 will be going virtual with a variety of online activities and resources including Bon-Odori dance videos with instructions, a Japanese summer sweets recipe, an Obon seasonal craft, “What is Obon'' picture/vocabulary edutainment, Obon virtual market, and you will learn how Philadelphia’s sister city, Kobe, celebrates their Obon in Japan. Virtual components of festival activities are free, family-friendly, and will be made available on our website for registrants.

Beginning at 8 PM, you can also join the Facebook Live stream of our Obon Lantern Launching Ceremony at Shofuso or register to participate in person here:



2019 - 7th Annual Philadelphia Obon Festival - Taiko, Tea Ceremony, Games, Crafts, Dance (Saturday)

The Annual Philadelphia Obon Festival is a Japanese celebration of one’s ancestors.
Each August, people return to their hometowns to remember the dead and reunite with loved ones. Obon is celebrated with festivities, especially dances called bon odori. These bon odori vary from place to place giving each Obon celebration a distinctive flavor.

On August 25, Shofuso will host Philadelphia’s 7th Annual Obon celebration. The festivities will include the eponymous dances led by dancers from the IchiFuji-kai Dance Association, taiko drumming by Kyo Daiko, tea ceremony demonstrations by Urasenke Philadelphia, traditional games, arts & crafts, as well as food trucks and a flea market and gift shop with vendors selling traditional goods. Join us for a day of celebration outside the gates of Shofuso. All events are free and open to the public. In the event of inclement weather, Obon will be rescheduled to Monday, June 17.


Festivals in the summer are as ubiquitous as warm weather, and nearly every culture has a major celebration that you can take part in while wearing shorts. In Japan, Obon is a festival that combines spiritualism with communal fun. It is a three-day festival based on the Buddhist belief that ancestors’ spirits visit the world of the living. The story goes that a disciple of the Buddha managed to see the spirit of his deceased mother, and saw that she was suffering. He then asked the Buddha what he could do, and was told to make offerings to Buddhist monks on the fifteenth day of the seventh month to relieve her suffering. The disciple did so and was successful, and he danced with joy to celebrate, which formed the basis of the “Bon Odori” or “Bon Dance.”

In Japan, during either July or August, people return to hometowns or ancestral homes, and hang up lanterns so that the spirits can find where they are going. During the day, people attend carnival-like events, and there is traditionally a community-specific Bon dance. At the end of the festival, lanterns are sent down rivers and streams to help guide the spirits back to the spirit world. People can be seen wearing “yukata,” a casual summer kimono at Obon, as it is cooler than other kimono. However, each community’s festival is unique in different ways. Typically, the dances themselves differ from each other, as the dance is meant to represent that specific community, but other aspects of the festivals can be unique as well. These can range from the music played to the features of a given location to the length of the celebration itself.

The 2019 Philadelphia Obon Festival will take place on Saturday, August 24th from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. Please come out and join us!


Philadelphia Obon Festival Date
August 24, 2019 - Obon Celebration

If the weather doesn’t permit it will be moved to August 25, 2019

Philadelphia Obon Festival Time
11:00 am - 5:00 pm


Philadelphia Shofuso Obon Festival Dates
All Philadelphia Shofuso Obon Festival Dates

Obon Festivals & Practices
All Obon Festivals  All Obon Practices

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Celebrate the Japanese Culture food, performances, and dancing.
(Please always confirm date & times, the schedule could change)


Philadelphia Obon Location
Shofuso Japanese House and Garden. Lansdowne Dr and Horticultural Dr., Philadelphia, PA 19131

Philadelphia Obon Title
Shofuso will Host Annual Philadelphia Obon Festival - Taiko, Tea Ceremony, Games, Crafts, Dance


Philadelphia Obon Sponsor
Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia

Saturday, 22 August, 2020

Event/Festival Contact

Philadelphia Shofuso Japanese House & Garden

Phone: (215) 878-5097
Website: Click to Visit

Event Cost


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