Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple
The Obon holiday, which falls in mid-August is one of the main public holidays in Japan, it’s a time for paying respects to your ancestors and has been observed for over 500 years. One of the largest ceremonies in my area, Urabon-e takes place at Shitennoni Temple.

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

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During this event, around 10,000 candles with ancestor’s names written on are placed in rows around the temple and lit in the evening.

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple
It was already a hot evening, but the heat from all the candles was incredible and the air was thick with smoke.

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple
It’s a little sobering when you consider what each of these candles represents, people seemed contemplative but most definitely enjoying the beautiful sight of these candles lighting the temple buildings and cloisters.

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple
We didn’t see any monks in procession as we expected to, but the sound of their chanting was routed through speakers throughout the complex which really added to the atmosphere!

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple
A monk was offering prayer in one of the nearby buildings.

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple

Urabon-e Manto Kuyo at Shitennoji Temple
Of course it wouldn’t be a proper event without matsuri stalls and games!

Urabon-e takes place from Aug 9th – 16th, it’s a fantastic sight that’s definitely worth seeing for yourself.

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2 Comments

  1. Jade
    07/01/2017
    Reply

    What day specifically do they light the candles? I will be in Japan from august 6th to the 13th, leaving on the 14th, in the Osaka area, and am wondering if I can catch the Welcome Fire candle lighting of Obon at this temple. It would be lovely to see all the candles and contemplate the significance of every soul they represent and the love felt for them from ancestors. I wish Americans did more in the remembrance of their dead, as a whole culture, rather than individuals who were afflicted.

    • 09/01/2017
      Reply

      Hiya Jade, it happens nightly during the festival period so you’ll definitely be able to catch it!

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