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origin of obon

I have heard this story on the origin of Obon and the Obon dancing:

A man's mother had passed away a short time before. Through some spiritual method, he learned that his mother had gone to Buddhist purgatory. He also learned that she was suffering greatly there.

Some time later, he learned that his mother had been released from purgatory, and had been allowed to go to Heaven. When he heard this great news, he was so overtaken with joy that he immediately got up and started dancing around.

It is said that the Obon dance symbolizes the impromptu joy that family members feel, when their dearly-departed have made it to heaven.


Most people think that ullambana (उल्लम्बन in Sanskrit) is the origin, but there might be other opinions too.

Google can tell you more.
名無し said:
Most people think that ullambana (उल्लम्बन in Sanskrit) is the origin, but there might be other opinions too.

That is also what I have been told by Japanese and what my Jap.-Jap. dictionary says.

BTW, "Tanabata" 七夕, Hina Matsuri 雛祭り, "Risshun" 立春, "Setsubun" 節分, etc are all Chinese, Obon is Indian, Christmas, Halloween and Valentine are Western, the New Year is international (but 1st January is the Western calendar). Do they have any native holiday or nationwide "festive days" (=>祭日, I won't say festival, as one might think of local matsuri with mikoshi) in Japan ?
Great links guys -thanks for taking the time to post.

I have it in a report sitting on my bookcase at home, but obon was yet another cultural import from China and had by that time, somewhere around 700CE, become fully associated with Buddhism. I think any statements trying to claim point of origin when talking about a religious practice that was changed many times over its history should be met with curious reserve.

As Buddhism moved from India, Chinese monks added and altered many things. This doesn't make Buddhism any less Buddhist in the same way that changes in practice between ancient and modern Chirstian practice make their system any less Christian. As far as obon is concerned, while it is fun and perhaps worthwhile to speculate about Christian origins of obon, the religious faiths of the world have so many things in common that if we wanted to play with words long enough we could say that all religions influenced each other.

There is a point when such discussions become pointless. We also need to watch out for a group trying to gain some kind of advantage by claiming original rights to this practice or that concept (esp. a religion trying to get a foothold in a place where it is not meet with great enthusiasm)

When Buddhism jumped to Japan again, it underwent some major changes as well. I'll break out the report later today and repost.
well, those views might be too skeewed-opinionated, yet some might prefer or value non-textbook type, grassrootish, self-claimed history-buffs opinions perhaps viewing history as winners his/her story, so, will take a look at that "urabon" stuff mainly by googling in jpn , see whats there, and pick/cut/paste/translate whatever me interested in.... fair enough???
盂蘭盆 - Google 検索 urabon
....umm.., for those who prefer scholarly touch, theres some about dunhuang-ologists study, by the way that 3rd picture, next to buddhist image in kouryu-temple in that site is from dunhuang,
yet, alas, those would be under my limited understanding since im not definitely a scholar, just a plain....
The problem with the on-line translators is that they are often really hard to understand once you translate the text (as an example I will translate this through Altavista). I wish there was an easier way to go about it, but there should be plenty of English stuff out there on obon too.

オンライン訳者との問題は(例がAltavista によって私これを) 翻訳するのでそれらがことである一度理解し頻繁に実際ににくいテキストを翻訳することを。私は約行くより容易な方法がそれあったしかしそこにobon に余りに沢山の英国の原料のそこにべきであることを望む。

According to Robert J. Smith, Ancestor Worship in Contemporary Japan, obon finds its origins in the urabon-kyo [盂蘭盆経]. In short, it is the story that Buntaro told us about with purgatory and all that. The practice was adopted officially by Empress Saimei in 659CE.

Ancestor veneration is very interesting, in my unbiased opinion :) , and you can use it as a base for all sorts of discussions on Japanese culture; concepts of the family, modern religious practice, how festivals and communities evolve and develop, and how Japan imported and then developed aspects of its culture form other parts of Asia.
now, heres some tidbits viewww of ancient history of nippon/pre-nippon.....
a term nippon/nihon was used as a country domain name for the first time in nihon-shoki compiled in 720, which some might call a sort of declaration of independence against t'ang dynasty of china, and that is again winners history, so, perhaps things about who defeated whom might be better understood, expanding a little, in east asian context.... so, emperor tenchi is who, the answer might be shillas kim chunchu, emperor tenmu was perhaps koguryos general yon kaesomn.... then what about those pre-nippon times empresses, werent they married?? probably so to soga clans originated persian area perhaps.... but denied by winners story.... btw kanji soga can be interpreted as "im resurrected." kanji suiko, which is the name of the first empress, means "think about old times," then that might lead to 3rd centuries spy report, wajinden, which tells people were ruled by a queen figure, so perhaps those tribes escapee or advancing through peninsula or sea to archipelago of jpn might have found least costly way of taking over obedient wajins....
wajinden: http://members.aol.com/Chachakunn/wajinden.html
now, what about that urabon stuff..... to be continued....
disclaimer: the burden of proof falls on viewers side....
a sequel of tidbits leading edge solutions of ancient history of nipp......
whos that fujiwara clan in heian period: they were (descendants of ) paekche refugees consist of upper class/royals who deserted their people when invaded by shilla and tang armies. some say fujiwara sounds 'country of paekche' in ancient korean phonemically...

appendix 1
diff between history and illusion:
would say history could be an orthodox narrative of the past by historians/court historians/academicians so on and could be true only among their circles or strata, whereas illusion might be a term graciously given by those history producers as a token of heresy to any non-official, self-claimed, more like fault-tolerant type version of narration of the past, articulated unshackledly by grass-rootish, would-be historians/ex court historians/semi academicians so on, which might be often true for the rest of the people.... how about that.

will continue to pick unconventional ones, hope dont mind...
while surfing, came up with this site, partly in english, that explains some theories of ancient history of east asia that might be bit close to what other unconventional ones say about, but this site seems to have some pg13 above, salacious contents, so, plz be advised be discreet while browsing and promise not to have stereotyped views toward the rest of jpn people just because of this authors nationality and so on, by saying so with less pricks of qualms perhaps, heres one:
for those of curious minds and eyes, here are more pictures of the curved stones in asuka plain yamato basin nara-ken, in jpn though:
マラ石 - Google 検索
亀石 飛鳥 - Google 検索 kameishi asuka
this cutie stone, 2m high, weighed more than 30 tons, is called 'kame ishi,' tortoise stone and centuries old occultic prophecy said about is when this turtle faces straight west, presently west by south west, this yamato area will be flooded. ...oh no, does it mean yamato/jpn islands will sink into the sea like the battle ship yamato, hope not..
battleship yamato http://www.biwa.ne.jp/~yamato/yamato.htm
according to gi-ryaku,/previous version or the source of gishi-wajin-den(records of wa-people in the wei history of san-kuo-chih(records of three kingdoms, ad 220-280)) or shinjo/records of jin quoted and recorded by 房玄齢 ad 579-648, a historian in tang dynasty, wajin/wa-people asserted that they were descendants of zhou dynasty clan(about 1111-256 bc). so there must have been more migrated ones from the continent after that....
what about those jpn historians in scholarly world???
FindArticles.com | CBSi
although in nihon-shokii, finished by 720, some say there must have been changing/falsification/collusion/doctoring/corruption/.... down to 14, 15 centuy, some say even in edo/meiji period and also burning books before its compilation is recorded in itself.., says prof sakamoto 1901-87, leading authority of society of jpn history, the direct disciple of prof kurosaka, said nihon-shoki takes precedent over other records whenever conflicting descriptions about any incidents are found among them....

in jpn national diet library seems there are at least 3k books on ancient history excluding archeology, more than half would be scholarly ones and the rest by amatures that might have some clue...

how about some neighboring countries?? seems south korea is still under government censorship that especially bans any anti-anti-jpn education materials...
and in taiwan people have been allowed to know the history of mainland china only.....right after ww2 2m people came in from mainland and 0.6m jpn deported might be true... perhaps peoples in asia have been for centuries dommesticated/civilized as history-immuned, what would be the term for this....geno-bastardlization?? after all history is very political thing...
.....seems a bit paradoxical in the sense that while obon which descended from urabon, transliteration of ullambhana, avlambana in sanskrit/urvan in sogdian-iranian means spirit/yulanpen in mandarin is like family reunion observance/festival even to the ponit of believing coming back ghosts of deceased kin..., some buddhists are called shukke people: shukke means, literally out of household/family, negation of family ties/responsibilities, deserting wives, kids or parents to join a monk society so on and believers of celibacy and reincarnation from which doctrine ones next lives might be those of bugs/fishes/beasts....
perhaps one way to look at is: incorporation of local people/beliefs of animism of ancestry worship, as one way to spread buddhism, avoiding collision courses with like the authoritarian confuciaous state of china...

.....seems ullambana sutra was created later...

anyhow heres some keikyo related one: some claim the name of inari jinjya is originated from 'inri.'
so, 32k inari jinjyas nation-wide are all related to....
伏見稲荷大社 head of inari jinjya: fushimi inari in kyoto
according to arimasa kubo, guestimation of three gods names in fushimi inari shrine through transliteration of hebrew/aramaic is as following:

宇伽之御魂 uka-no-mitama uka --> 'uke' means food --> god who gives a plenty of foods
佐田彦大神 satahiko-ookami --> 'shata biko' --> the first born, head
大宮能売大神 oomiyanome-ookami --> 'mayan ometsu' --> source/origin of force/power

also mentions 天照, amatrasu sounds like 'ama tera' that means "ancestor tera" for his jewish collegue.

503 error
kubo wrote

Obon Feast
Next, let us look at the Obon feast. In Japan they have an event called Obon on July 15 or August 15. In the time they used the lunar calendar it was held on the 15th day of the 7th month.

Today Obon is regarded as one of the events of Buddhism, but since the time long before Buddhism was imported to Japan, there had been a feast called Tama-matsuri which was the original of Obon. When Buddhism was imported to Japan, this Tama-matsuri was took in the events of Buddhism and became Obon. In ancient Israel on the 15th day of the 7th month was a big feast called the Feast of Booths (harvest feast, Vayikra 23:39).

Today the Japanese use the solar calendar and in many cases they now hold the Obon feast on the 15th day of the 8th month. Strangely this was the day when the harvest feast was held in the northern kingdom of Israel of the Ten Tribes. The Bible records that Jeroboam, the king of the northern kingdom, ordained a feast "on the 15th day of the 8th month" like the feast which was in the southern kingdom of Judah (Melachim I 12:32).

It was an Israeli tradition since ancient times to have the harvest feast on the 15th day of the 7th month, but King Jeroboam rejected this tradition and ordained a new day for the harvest feast on the 15th day of the 8th month.

In Israel, the Feast of Unleavened Bread (New Year) and the Feast of Booths (harvest feast) on the 15th day of the 7th month (or 8th month) were the most magnificent events throughout a year. Similar to this, the Japanese have been performing magnificent feasts at the same times as these. In Japan today, the 15th day of the 8th month is also the memorial day of the end of the last war.

says from the article of hazah magazine feb 2001, rev kobayashi, said to be a grand son of emperor meiji, told in an interview that he confided in his ma that ad hoc private scholarly agency by the power bestowed upon him investigated what the heck of nippon was and lead to the conclusion that jpn had been based on shinto, yet shintos essentially judaism.... she repeatedly told him while he was an elementary school kid... also he encouraged her to bring him a clergyman...
says almost half of the imperial household agency people are christians... current tennou was circumsized in the 8th day....
jpn dictionary says the meaning of hata-mono, 機物 :1)cloth, 2) a loom, 3)crucifixion, lumber/bar for a cross. hata clan by way of the silk road had brought sericulture and silk weaving technology... and perhaps crucifixion as punishment too...
claims in the underground of ise jinguu/shrine, t-shaped, three bar type cross, blood stained, has been enshrined.
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