At this time of year Sado bustles with tourists and local people coming home. Summer festivals, firework displays and other events held all over the island make you regret the passing of summer. The Earth Celebration, featuring the world-famous Kodo drummers, is also held each year around this time. Visitors from Japan and other countries transform the Ogi district, which hosts the concert, into an exotic land.
Takatoro-tate (Setting up tall lantern baskets)
On the 1st of August, families in which someone has died since the last O-bon festival, set up lantern baskets with cedar leaves attached at the tip of long bamboo poles at the end of the garden. Since the lanterns act as a guide to the visiting spirit of the dead person, the higher the better. This is a custom which has died out everywhere except in the Kaifu area and in Kosado.
This falls on August 7, when people prepare to welcome returning ancestral spirits by cleaning their graves in the early morning.
This is a market held on August 12 and 13 for the O-bon festival. It sells items required for o-bon offerings, flowers such as bush clover, lotus leaves to put on the graves, flower vases and hemp stalks. A morning market, it starts at one o'clock in the morning.
Seirei-mukae (Welcoming the spirits)
Horses made of eggplants or cucumbers and o-bon flowers are placed as offerings on a specially-made shelf and in the evening a fire is lit at the gate to welcome the spirits.
The dancing is generally thought to comfort the spirits who have been invited and then send them on their way again. Sado is famous for its folk songs and every area has its own in addition to the well-known ones such as Sado okesa (traditional folk song) , Ryotsu jinku (folk song) , Aikawa ondo (local dance song) and Ogi okesa. Since anyone can join in on the spur of the moment, bon-odori dancing is an essential part of the enjoyment of summer festival. It is not just for local people and their families who have come home for the occasion, but for visitors too.
Seirei-okuri (Sending the spirits on their way)
On the evening of August 16, o-bon offerings are put on little ships in coastal areas, or on riverbanks inland, people light fires and chant Buddhist prayers as the spirits are sent on their way again, back to the other world.
An event put on by the world-famous Kodo drummers of Sado Island, Earth Celebration is an outdoor concert held over three days at this time of year. Top Japanese and international artists from a wide range of fields are invited to take the stage together with the Kodo drummers. In addition to the evening concert, the surrounding Ogi district, provides a number of events throughout the day, while in the portside square there are rows of shops selling sundries and ethnic food from all over the world. Wherever you go there is fun to be had. Ogi is transformed into an exotic land for the duration of the celebration, with visitors from all over the world.