Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Today Is Autumnal Equinox Day

Today is September 23rd and it is a national holiday here in Japan. The autumnal equinox day or "Shuubun no hi" marks the beginning of autumn, where the heat of summer begins to subside to give way to the cool, crisp air of autumn. This is also the day when the Japanese pay respects to their deceased family members.

I have mentioned in one of my previous posts about the Obon, a time when the dead ancestors of the Japanese come to visit them. Today, it is the living's turn to pay their respects to the dead. This would mean that they would visit their family graves and clean the tombstones, offer flowers and food, burn incense sticks and pray as part of their Buddhist tradition. This is just like in the Philippines where we pay respects to our dead on the 1st or 2nd of November.

Since we have no dead here in Japan, we just lit a candle this morning to pray for our dear departed's souls. And because dad has to report for work (not a holiday in their company calendar), Sam and I will just be staying home. And maybe, dad can bring home some of those ohagi, a traditional Japanese sweet made of glutinous rice covered with azuki (red bean) paste or soybean flour. While this sweet is usually offered to the dead, it is also a very good treat for everyone.

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