Obon ceremony in Cumberland

On Aug. 11 at 2 p.m., a Obon ceremony will begin at the Cumberland Cemetery Service

For more than 25 years, the B.C. Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples Federation, based on the B.C. mainland, has sponsored an annual Vancouver Island Obon Cemetery Tour.

It pays respects to the many individuals of Japanese descent who helped build Vancouver Island’s communities and are buried in our historic cemeteries.

The Japanese-Canadians of the Island and Coastal B.C. were removed and interned in April 1942, as the Second World War spread to the Pacific, and few made their way back, so most of those buried here no longer have descendants living nearby to honour their memories.

Members of various Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples on the lower mainland and other parts of B.C. were aware of this and began organizing the Obon Tour in the mid-1980’s, as a “way of acknowledging the pioneers of our country (and) letting them know that they may be gone, but they are not forgotten.”

In years past, this weekend event attracted enough participants to fill a tour coach, but as congregations have aged, attendance has become limited to the celebrant minister and a one or two others from the mainland, and a small but increasing number of local residents who turn out to remember this vanished community.

Obon is the Japanese Buddhist Feast of Lanterns, an annual festival originating in China that begins on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month (July-August) and honours the spirits of family ancestors.

Everyone who can travels home for family reunions, work bees are held to clean ancestor’s graves and monuments, and their spirits are believed to return to visit their families’ household altars. Where the number of participants is sufficient, the three-day celebration traditionally ends with a Bon Dance, or Bon Odori, which expresses gratitude towards one’s ancestors.

For 2012, Rev. Grant Ikuta, resident minister of the Steveston Buddhist Temple and recently elected the first Canadian-born Socho or Bishop of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada, will visit five historic Vancouver Island cemeteries and one private residence on Aug. 11 and 12.

Each Obon ceremony will last approximately an hour, but Rev. Ikuta will lead participants in cleaning up graves and monuments before and after each cemetery service.

As Rev. Ikuta says in his attached poster for this tour, “The other purpose of the Obon Cemetery Tour is to foster fellowship and understanding as we welcome people from all nationalities and denominations in paying tribute to those who have gone before us.  Your participation in the visitation is greatly appreciated.”

On Aug. 11 at 2 p.m., a Obon ceremony will begin at the Cumberland Cemetery Service (Cumberland Japanese Cemetery on Cumberland Road).

— B.C. Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples Federation

Just Posted

Courtenay Day of Mourning ceremony April 28 at Simms Park

In 2018, 131 B.C. workers died from a workplace injury or disease.… Continue reading

Kus-kus-sum receives $1 million in provincial funding

New Democrat MLA Ronna-Rae Leonard is welcoming $1 million in provincial funding… Continue reading

Comox Valley Record putting the call out to Snowbirds shutterbugs

David Suther sent in this great pic of the Snowbirds, shot from… Continue reading

Too Good To Be Threw back in downtown Courtenay with second location

The new store opened Tuesday at 456 5th Street

World Community screens This Mountain Life in Courtenay

The awe that mountainous landscapes evoke is universal. World Community presents the… Continue reading

VIDEO: Driver in bizarre hit-and-run at B.C. car dealership turns herself in

Police believe alcohol was a factor in incident causing estimated $15,000 in damages

Sewer line repair underway at Goose Spit Park in Comox

Wastewater spotted near parking area at bottom of Goose Spit stairs

‘B.C. cannot wait for action’: Top doctor urges province to decriminalize illicit drugs

Dr. Bonnie Henry says current approach in ‘war on drugs’ has criminalized and stigmatized drug users

B.C. woman, 76, challenges alcohol-screening laws after failing to give breath sample

Norma McLeod was unable to provide a sample because of her medical conditions

New report on 2017 wildfires calls for better coordination with B.C. First Nations

Tsilhqot’in National Government documents 2017 disaster and lists 33 calls to action

B.C. youth coach banned amid sexual harassment, bullying scandal: Water Polo Canada

Justin Mitchell can’t take part in Water Polo Canada events or clubs

CONTEST ALERT: Win tickets to A Night of Bowie

UPDATE: Congrats to Angela Dawn, who won two ticketas to the show.… Continue reading

Wilson-Raybould: Feds want to just ‘manage the problem’ of Indigenous Peoples

Former federal justice minister speaks at First Nations Justice Council meeting in B.C.

Woman who was chased and tackled after break-in sentenced on Vancouver Island

Natasha Geraldine Harris, 28, was sentenced to time served and will be released from jail

Most Read