Monday, August 13, 2007

Obon in Misawa

Monday (we were given the day off to get our households in order) T-sensei picked AH and I up to go with her family to “celebrate” obon. Basically obon is a time when families go to pay respects to their ancestors; during this time, families clean the tombstones, leave offerings, and pray at temples. T-sensei and her husband were great about explaining the various rituals, and they even asked us to participate by placing some incense on the tomb marker.

(One thing that I didn't think about until much later, though, is whether or not I should have participated in the ceremony. I mean, I viewed it as a cultural/respect thing, but there was a Buddhist priest performing rites, and it is a Buddhist holiday/"celebration". Should I have tactfully declined to participate? I don't know, and I suspect that this will be a recurring problem/issue for me: the tension between being open to different cultures/beliefs and being true to my Christian beliefs.)

After that, we went for dinner at T-sensei’s house. Her mother had made most of the food, and there was a TON of it. Her husband was really excited to have AH there, since she was able to try out all his different beers—and of course that meant he was able to drink as well! We also met T-sensei’s two teenage (high school aged) sons. They were quite shy—probably because we’re girls—but they seemed like nice guys.