Adjusting to the Rhythm of Obon in Japan

The most difficult thing during the summer in Japan is the heat. The second is the fact that everyone leaves in August. It is the second most difficult month for expats to adjust to, with December being the most difficult. Obon is the festival of the dead and is celebrated throughout the month of August, making this a very lonely and desolate time for expats who opt to not celebrate Obon. There are many reasons why expats do not celebrate Obon; some for religious reasons, others because they just don’t feel like it. There are alternatives to Obon in August for entertainment.

If you want to travel during Obon, it is best to check out when a region is not celebrating. Some regions celebrate Obon as early as the second week in July. There are some good “off season” deals available in August, making July the perfect month to plan a trip. It is also a great time to get out and explore the hustle and bustle of the Japanese summer. August is the perfect day-trip month because celebration is in the air. August is Japan’s friendliest month. Small villages become more welcoming, and Japanese people seem to be just a bit more accepting of expats who haven’t quite mastered the language yet.

A lot of work places give a full week off for Obon, which contributes to making it a great time for day trips or summer vacations abroad. South Korea is a short 2-hour plane ride and there is an abundance of great travel packages and deals to be had. Thailand is another great summer travel destination and very budget friendly. If you can’t afford to travel, don’t want to celebrate Obon, and can’t take the heat and humidity, then there is no shame in catching up on your favorite tv programs or hanging out on social media sites. I strongly suggest making an active decision. If you opt to stay in, having an “I just can’t take the heat” statement ready will prevent feelings of alienation when co-workers and friends talk about their summer adventures.

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Posted on 13 Jul 2015 00:09

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