Families of tsunami victims visit their loved ones

5 years ago by in Japan

The relatives of the victims of the tsunami that hit Japan on March 2011 visited their loved ones’ tombs in Otsuchi Town, Iwate Prefecture, northern Japan, at the start of the Bon holidays on Tuesday.

The holidays are dedicated to the dead and at this time of the year, people pay respect to their family members that are not alive.

Koganji Temple in the town’s central district is attracting people. Many of them traveled long distances to respect the ritual, according to the media. The tsunami swept away the temple’s main building and many gravestones. Some of the headstones remain in disrepair.

853 people were killed in the disaster in the town and 433 others are still listed as missing. A woman from Sendai City, the capital of the neighboring MiyagiPrefecture, said she lost her parents and home in tsunami. Also, her younger brother is still declared missing ever since.

She said it doesn’t seem that restoration is in progress in the town even though 2 years and 5 months have passed since the disaster. Also the woman said that she grew to accept the disaster and that she will further live an honorable life.

Obon or just Bon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.  The festival of Obon lasts for three days; however its starting date varies within different regions of Japan.