Elizabeth Andoh: A Taste of Culture – OBON: Summer Holidays

OBON, the summertime holiday season in Japan, is when the spirits of the departed are believed to return to this world for a short visit. Far from being considered morbid, it is a pleasant, respectful way for younger generations to stay connected to their ancestors. Its a time for fondly recalling the accomplishments and kindnesses of those who have passed away. 

In Japan the Obon holiday period is also a time for sato-gaeri, or “returning home” visits by the living to their ancestral home. Typically those born and raised in a rural setting who have gone to urban centers for school and work, return to the place of their (often rustic) childhood. Just saying the word sato-gaeri evokes warm feelings of nostalgia in most Japanese.

During the pandemic, travel was difficult. This is the first summer in three years without restrictions and while many Japanese will choose overseas destinations, droves will be doing domestic sato-gaeri. 

Visit my KITCHEN CULTURE Blog to learn more about OBON rituals and repasts. Then visit my Kitchen Culture Cooking Club where you’ll find all sorts if resources for making tomato salads for great summertime eating!

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Elizabeth Andoh A Taste of Culture Culinary Arts Program Setagaya-ku, Tokyo 158-0095, Japan


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