Thursday, 12 August 2010

Basics of 'O Bon'

"O bon" is a buddhist memorial service for the ancestors and deceased members of families.
It is an event to receive and comfort and honour ancestral spirits.
The formal name is Urabon-e.

It takes place in July from the 13th to 16th or August the 12th to 17th.
It depends on lunar calendar and location where you are in Japan.

During this period, spirits of the dead are believed to return home families.

In the area I know, people lit fires on August 13th to guide ancestors and deceased family members to their home.

They also lite lantern inside the house to help them to find their way.

In most places, Bon stand are display and some offerings are display.

At home, Butsudan (buddhist altars) are set up and offerings are made out of vegetable and fruits and are displayed for ancestors spirits.

People visit the family's grave, clean it, offers flowers, burn incense stick and pray for their souls to rest in peace.

Here is the manners when you go visiting a grave in Japan:

Pour water onto the gravestone, clean it with sponge (or other) and wipe off the waper.
Also clean the flower vase stand and water bbasin if you have one.

After, put flowers in the flower stands, light candle and a bundle of incense sticks and place them in to incense burner.

If you have brought offerings, you please place them on a sheet of Japanese paper.

Once the grave have been cleaned and all apparels being set, each visitor pours clean water onto the grave stones from pail.

They squats down facing the front of the gravestone, and take your "Juzu" in hands and prays quietly joining one hands together.

Bon dances "O bon dori" are performed to entertain ancestral spirits throughout Japan.

On the last evening of "O bon", farewell fires are made to guide the spirits back to their world.

You see more of the floating lanterns in the country sides.

Monday, 2 August 2010

Kimono part -1

Kimono is a general term for the Japanese national costume for men as for women.
It consists essentially of a long dress open at the front which are crossed left over right and maintained by a fabric belt which is called "Obi".

The kimono, which succeeded the short-sleeved kosode became the standard costume. The kosode was worn as underwear since the Nara period and becomes a top dress in the sixteenth century.

Until the seventeenth century women fixed it with only a belt of flexible material and it was replaced by a hard belt equipped with a knot in the back. However, the courtesans continued to tighten their kimono with a soft belt knotted at the front.

All kimono are cut the same way, only decoration and fabrics differentiate them.

In general, men's kimono use dark colors, sometimes in the case of kimono, you can see the Kamon (family Crest) of their families. They are appointed with hakama pants and go over a large jacket named Haori.

In summer kimono made of wool and silk is usually replaced by a light cotton kimono, printed or dyed in indigo on white background, called yukata.

In winter, a large heavy cloth jacket named tanzen is brought to the house over the kimono

More explanation about the Yukata:

The Yukata (浴衣) is an unlined kimono-like garment for summer use, usually made of cotton, linen, or hemp.

Yukata are strictly informal, most often worn for festivals, by men and women of all ages. They are also worn at onsen (hot spring) resorts, where they are provided for the guests.

It is very light and very confortable in summer time.
It is not wear with the tabi only with the Zori or Getta.

Some Japanese vocabulary about clothing:

Obi () is the sash worn with kimono.

Tabi (足袋) are ankle-high, divided-toe socks usually worn with zōri or geta.

Geta (下駄) are wooden sandals worn by men and women with yukata.

Zōri (草履) are traditional sandals worn by both men and women, similar in design to flip-flops. Their formality ranges from strictly informal to fully formal. They are made of many materials, including cloth, leather, vinyl and woven grass, and can be highly decorated or very simple.

Do you know that there is many types of Kimono?

Today I just explained the basic knowledge about Kimono and the more simplest one the Yukata.

Next Time I talk Kimono...I will tell you more about all of them and their differences.