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Bon Festival

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Bon Festival

Bon Festival

The Bon Festival was a festival of remembrance and reverence towards a family's departed ancestors. It was also known as Paper Lartern Festival. [1]

Nature of the Festival Edit

During the festival, in the last day of the month of the Dog, [2] a family's ancestors, as well as the malevolent spirits of those who met violent ends or who had no grave, returned to the homes of their descendants. Extended families came together across Rokugan at this time and provided two sets of altars for the spirits: one for the ancestors of their family and one for the spirits of those with no remaining family to provide an altar for them. [3]

Parade of the Dead Edit

Bon Festival at Ryoko Owari

Bon Festival at Ryoko Owari

Rokugani traveled to the graves where their ancestors were interred, light lanterns to greet their spirits, and then returned to their homes, hanging the lanters outside to guide the spirits to them. That night, the local shugenja would perform a Bon dance to entertain the gathered spirits, preventing them from becoming angry and harming people. The shugenja would travel from house to house, so they could dance for every local family. [3]

The streets were filled with representations of the Great Kami, the Dragons of Myth, and white-faced ‘ghosts’ and spirits of the past. The Bon Festival was a time when the dead souls of the past were closest to their heirs in the world. [4] The celebration was known as the Parade of the Dead". [5]

During the festival, there were fireworks, parades, music, traditional dances, and long twisting streamers. Cakes made of bleached white rice and covered in brown sugar were made to remind people that death (symbolized by the white) was a part of all life. [4]

Paper Lantern Festival Edit

Paper Lantern Festival

Paper Lantern Festival

At the end of the festival, the people sent the spirits back to the worlds beyond. The people guided the spirits by floating lit candles and paper lanterns down nearby rivers [3] in the called Paper Lantern Festival. [6] It marked the end of the Bon Festival. [7]

Special Events Edit

Kyuden Doji Edit

At Kyuden Doji great basins were filled of water from the sea into which the Lady Doji disappeared. At Kyuden Bayushi the inner rooms were filled with the water of the holy lake both Bayushi and Shosuro rested in. [8]

Kyuden Kumiko Edit

In 1168 in the Month of the Rooster the Mantis held a Bon Festival in Kyuden Kumiko which ended with the usual paper boats. The release of brightly colored floating lanterns by the celebrants could be seen all the way to the mainland. [9] The festival marked athe completion of its new port, the Broken Wave City, in the Kaigen's Island, [10] a city built to honor Yoritomo Kumiko, dead in the Battle of Broken Waves. [11]

External Links Edit

Bon Festival at Ryoko Owari 2

Bon Festival at Ryoko Owari


  1. Masters of Magic, p. 157
  2. Winter Court: Kyuden Seppun, p. 67
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Way of the Phoenix, p. 30
  4. 4.0 4.1 Night of a Thousand Screams, p. 6
  5. Night of a Thousand Screams, p. 41
  6. Paper Lantern Festival (Rise of the Shogun Title)
  7. Way of the Phoenix, p. 30
  8. Rokugan, p. 123
  9. Paper Lantern Festival (Rise of the Shogun flavor)
  10. Vacant Throne, pp. 43-44
  11. The War of Fire & Thunder, Part 3, by Shawn Carman

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