On May 5th people all across Japan celebrate Children’s Day or Kodomo no Hi. It might not be a normal year, but if you look out your veranda you can possibly see some carp streamer (koi nobori). One of the ways to celebrate is with an iris bath or shoubu-yu. It’s purported to make you strong like a samurai. Another way to celebrate is for boys to set out a fancy doll. Kintaro is often found in houses all over Japan. He’s also big and strong like a samurai.
Obon: the time when you have to send ol’ grandma and grandpa back to the World of the Dead. There are various ways of doing this. I talk about two, the chill, mellow way and the flinging-balls-of-fire-into-the-air way.
Obon is the time of year when all the ancestors’ spirits make the long haul back to the world of the living to pay a visit. Butsudan altars are decorated to the hilt and families wait expectantly for grandma and grandpa, great grandma and great grandpa (not to mention great, great, great grandma and grandpa) to arrive and hang out.