Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Climate change - or is it just the weather - influencing neighborhood summer activities; Radio Taiso cancelled due to the heat; a subdued Jizo-bon due to the typhoon

It's been mighty warm this summer in my neighborhood and other parts of Japan and the world. Usually at the end of August neighbors gather in the morning at the local Shinto shrine to do a program of simple exercises and of course socialize. This is usually done over a two week period. Participants get a stamp card and receive a stamp on the days they participate. Young children get treats as well. But this year we received no information about the program and it was by chance that I bumped into the head of the neighborhood association and inquired. "It's just too hot and everyone is worn out..." he explained with a slight expression of shame and embarrassment. Too bad. Let's hope we can do it next year. For more about Radio Taiso, see the following VAOJ post:

"Summer Vacation Rajio Taisō (Radio Calisthenics) in My Neighborhood" (9/1/15):

But the good news was that I was able to witness and photograph the Jizo-bon that happens every August at a local cemetery (for various reasons I have been unable to shoot over the years). In the afternoon of 23 August neighbors began setting up for the festival but this was also the time that a typhoon was moving in. So not much happened that evening as the rain and wind were quite strong. Luckily things calmed down on the 24th and lanterns were able to be hung and people could gather. What is Jizo-obon?

Toward the end of summer, when children's summer vacation is coming to an end, Jizo-bon takes place... On street comers or in back alleys, in front of the small shrines in which a Jizo statue is placed... Red and white lanterns tell where a Jizo-bon... is taking place in a neighborhood.

Jizo-bon is a festival performed for the Jizo deity, A Buddhist bodhisattva... Japan Buddhism is often associated with funerals and memorials for the dead... But Jizo is an exception: he is considered the guardian deity of children... his mission to walk throughout the world and save anyone in need... On August 24 a special celebration, Jizo-bon, takes place for Jizo...

Excerpts from Jizo-Bon in Kyoto Today: A Celebration of Children and Community by Miyuki Hirayama (Children's Folklore Review, Vol. 29, 2006-2007)

Read the whole article in pdf format:

This is another Japanese festival event that seems to differ locally. Hirayama describes the festival as an exciting event for children in a place as close to us as Kyoto. For our local cemetery there are no games or food booths; the event seems to be a chance to clean and decorate the grave sites and receive offerings (money, flowers, beer) for the local Jizo. So here are my shots of a subdued celebration this year...

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