外国人 (foreigners) turn out for お盆 (Obon Festival)

18/11/2015 § Leave a comment

I dreamed I was in Japan at Obon Festival. I was staying with my brother’s in-laws. It was morning and I said “ohayou gozaimasu” to the family. I retreated to a room and had a long conversation with my sister-in-law’s dead grandmother. The grandmother didn’t tell me if she was maternal or paternal grandmother. We talked a long time, and I felt she gave me a lot of wisdom and understanding. I returned to the family and told them about my conversation.

“That’s very funny. You don’t know Japanese and she didn’t know English.”
We laughed and I nodded. “The dead talk in a different language.”
My sister-in-law’s sister-in-law, who knows no English beyond “hello” and “thank you” asked me “breakfast?” and I flipped through my phrasebook trying to find the Japanese word for “breakfast” and came up with something impossible to pronounce. Then I remembered they had “morning meals”, not really breakfast, so it made sense I wouldn’t find the word.

“I like Japan, but there are some months I would rather not be here,” I said.
“What months?” my brother’s best friend asked.
“June through August!” I laughed. Obon Festivals are in July or August, depending on the region of Japan.

My brother’s best friend was in Japan for Obon too. He and I found my brother in a large paneled room, gazing at an illuminated trophy case. My brother was wearing an old-style Vancouver Canucks (black, yellow, orange with skate logo) jacket, unzipped. “Hey,” we said to him. “Whatcha you doin’?” He looked at us. “Do you want to go… home?” His friend subtly shook his head at me, in a “let’s not say anything that’s going to set him off or cause trouble” way. We were guessing at what “era” my brother’s ghost was presenting. The ghost didn’t say anything about his son, or his wife, didn’t look overweight, and the jacket badge logo suggested the early 1990s. “Aren’t you cold out here?” I asked. “Where should I be?” he asked. I was thinking his bones would be divided between our mom’s grave and wherever my sister-in-law was keeping them but didn’t want to say that.

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