2020 Obon Lantern Lighting

Obon is a series of events in Japan that enshrine the spirits of ancestors in the summer that are based on Buddhism and Ancestral worship.

Typically, in Japan, between August 13-15 (depending on the region), people return to hometowns to celebrate Obon each year. Families gather, clean their graveyard, the shrine in the house and light the lanterns to welcome the spirits home on the 13th of August. After the spirits spend a few days with family, on the night of the 16th or 15th depending on the regional tradition, people dance Bon-Odori in a circle under the lanterns to guide the spirits back to the otherworld. People often dress in Yukata, Japanese one-layer summer cotton Kimono for the Obon festival.

The eighth annual Philadelphia Obon Festival 2020 is dedicated to repose the souls of the people who are affected by a series of unexpected events this year with our first Lantern Ceremony. Beginning at 8:00 PM, registered participants can launch floating lanterns on Shofuso’s pond. Summer Kimono and Yukata will also be on display inside of the house and you’ll be able to join the ceremony on Facebook Live.

Other programs including Bon-Odori dance videos with instructions, a Japanese summer sweets recipe, a special Obon seasonal craft, “What is Obon” picture/vocabulary edutainment, a virtual flea market, and you will learn how Philadelphia’s sister city, Kobe, celebrates their Obon in Japan. Virtual components of festival activities are free, family-friendly, and will be made available on our website for registrants. You can register for our 2020 Virtual Obon programming here:


August 22nd at 8:00 PM, registered participants can launch floating lanterns on Shofuso’s pond to honor loved ones. These in-person launchings will have limited capacity. Doors open at 7:30 PM.

The cost of $25 ($20 for members) includes a floating lantern.

  • August 22, 2020
  • 8:00 pm - 9:00 pm
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Lansdowne Dr & Horticultural Dr, Philadelphia, PA 19131

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