The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft: The Complete A-Z for the Entire Magical World - Judika Illes 2005
Calendar of Revelry and Sacred Days
The Buddhist festival Obon is celebrated annually from the 13th to the 15th day of the seventh month of the Japanese calendar, which corresponds to the Western July 15th if the lunar calendar is used or August 15th if the solar. Obon commemorates the ancestors who are believed to return to Earth at this time to visit surviving relatives and descendants.
Rituals vary depending upon region and family, however Obon is typically characterized by lanterns, which are hung in front of houses to guide dead souls back home. Visits to the cemetery are customary. Offerings to the ancestors traditionally include cake, fruits and flowers, rice, and vegetables. These are placed on altars at home or in shrines and temples. Traditional dances (bon odori) are believed to comfort and please returning ghosts.
When Obon is over, the lanterns are placed in living waters, such as streams, rivers, lakes, and seas. There they float and will guide the ghosts back to their own realm.