August 18, 2007

The Lady’s Summer Debut: Obon Holiday Family BBQ

It’s mid-August, and in western Japan, that means a time of stifling heat and humidity, chirping cicadas flitting about in the trees, lush rice fields, extravagant fireworks displays seen by throngs of people and which dazzle the eyes and ears…all anchored by the long Obon holiday. Obon is a Japanese Buddhist holiday to honor the spirits of one’s deceased ancestors that has evolved into a prime family reunion time across Japan. Picture it as Thanksgiving, Christmas and a visit to a loved one’s grave all rolled into one week-long holiday.

During this year’s Obon vacation, we took Lady E. to meet her relatives on Naomi’s side when everyone was visiting the family homestead, which is in the countryside not too far from Hiroshima. Many of them she met for the first time, including her great-grandma. It is fair to say Elena was the belle of the ball, or the queen bee of the BBQ, if you will.

We ate typical BBQ fare, lots of scallops and veggies and, perhaps, a little more meat than usual because I was there—we North Americans have the image of inveterate carnivores which my Japanese relatives love to indulge. At the end of this feast, Yukari showed Seto-san the proper way to make Hiroshima-style okonomiyaki.

It’s also a time to catch up with what other people are doing; we’re all so busy such occasions to get together are rare. So it was a fine time of eating, drinking, gabbing and trying to stay out of the blistering sun (it was about 35 degrees or 96 degrees Fahrenheit). As the afternoon wore on, everyone went out to the family gravestones – which are located on the family land near the riverside – and paid their respects. Then, those who came from out of town went into Hiroshima to catch a Hiroshima Carp baseball game at the stadium downtown.

It’s a little early to introduce Elena to baseball (although I am looking forward to that day!) so we opted to head home in the evening. Our poor little Laputa labored to get us home because we had the air conditioner on full blast.

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