【明報專訊】In Japan, Halloween is celebrated as Obon in either July or August. Obon is a Sanskrit (梵文) phrase for "hanging upside down". It comes from the story of a Buddhist monk seeing his deceased mother hanging upside down in hell. Obon lasts three days. It is a period for remembering departed souls and make offerings to them.
On the first day of Obon, people visit their families' graves, which are often decorated with fruits, cakes and lanterns. People usually set up altars (祭壇) for their loved ones at home on the second day of Obon. On the last day of it, people from the community congregate. People, usually in traditional kimono (和服), come together to watch dance performances and put small paper lanterns into a river. This ritual has much to do with the belief that lights would guide spirits back to the other shore. It is also a traditional activity to tell ghost stories during Obon.
Though Japanese celebrate Obon, the western Halloween, which serves similar purposes, is gaining popularity in Japan. Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan (in Osaka) organise special Halloween activities every year.