Many Asian countries celebrate the ancient bon festival around the seventh lunar month, although in Japan the festivities are usually held in the middle of August. The festival is ancient and dates back to one of Buddha's disciples, Mokuren, who wanted to ameliorate the suffering of his deceased mother. To do this he danced what Japanese people call bon odori (bon dance), which is performed by everyone in the community to welcome the spirits of the dead, to celebrate their ancestors.
Kawachi-ondo dancers at Kinshicho station, Tokyo.
The bon festival in Japan is a time when people go back to their villages and hometowns, where they meet with their families, tend the graves of their ancestors and celebrate with their communities. Every region has its own style of dance, usually centred on a platform upon which a drummer and shamisen player perform, around which villagers dance.
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