Wanderlust Japan > Festivals > Obon Dances in Tokyo

Obon Dances in Tokyo

Japanese festivals are a rare time when you get to see people in traditional dress, see hundreds of lanterns, and snack on some stall foods.

One type of festival, Obon, features dancing as well. Obon is a time when the Japanese believe that the spirits of the dead come back to the earth. During this time it is customary to clean the graves of your family, give them new flowers, and offer them things like your awesome Obon-dance! 

I guess if you were looking for a good equivalent of Obon, it might be the Day of the Dead. Obon lasts between August 13th to the 16th, but the festivities can go on until October.


Unsurprisingly, there are many Obon dances that happen every year in Tokyo. The nice thing about Obon dance is that ANYBODY can join in!

You really don’t have to be just an observer, because there is also no need to feel shy. Most Japanese people only do this dance about once a year. Usually there is a tall wooden structure with people and a drum/other instruments on it. Mimic the people who are around you, standing around the middle wooden structure (also known as a “yagura“).

There are different dances you can do, all of them involve different motions with your hands and body. There is even a coal-miner dance like in the comic.


HOW TO DO THE DANCE and recommended spots in Tokyo:




These pictures are from one of the biggest Obon dance festivals in Tokyo, Tsukiji Honganji Bon-Odori. 

You might know the name “Tsukiji” because of the world-famous fish market and sushi restaurants. The temple is close to that area.




Festival lanterns and Tsukiji Honganji building




In case you are wondering, corporate sponsors are written on the lanterns. Their name gets written on lanterns according to their donations.



May 13  Category:Festivals Tag:, , ,

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