I recently had the pleasure of meeting some of my husband’s family from Japan and experiencing a special part of their Okinawan culture , an Obon celebration. It was a really wonderful visit… something that we will never forget. Obon is one of the most important Japanese Buddhist customs. It’s believed that ancestors’ spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family. For this reason, it is an important family gathering time, and many people return to their hometowns so they can honor and pray for the spirits. They will visit and clean their ancestors’ graves, place a variety of offerings such as vegetables, fruits and other items they enjoyed, and the sprits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household alters. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years.
Our relatives traveled all the way from Japan and California to celebrate this special time of year in the little west Texas town of Tahoka, where my husband’s Grandmother and Grandfather are buried. It was so awesome getting to meet them and learn more about our family from Japan. Although there was a language barrier, it was amazing to see everyone connecting throughout their visit. For me, as a photographer, it was especially rewarding to see everyone looking through family photographs and sharing stories about those moments in time. It made my heart so full. Photography is so important to preserving your family history. So don’t stop taking those photographs and *printing* them so your story can continue to be shared. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or professional… it just has to capture what you would like to preserve. It’s a beautiful and important way to document your life.
It’s been so much fun staying in touch with everyone and I really hope that someday we can all meet up again. Maybe next time we will visit them in Japan… now, that would be wonderful trip. :)