Obon tour remembers Japanese-Canadians

Nanaimo cemetery one stop on Island tour to honour Japanese-Canadians.

A special ceremony pays respect to deceased individuals of Japanese descent in Nanaimo Aug. 12.

For more than 25 years, the B.C. Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples Federation, based on the mainland, has sponsored an annual Vancouver Island Obon Cemetery Tour to honour to Japanese-Canadians who helped build the Island’s communities. Nanaimo is one of the stops on the tour.

Obon is the Japanese Buddhist Feast of Lanterns, an annual festival originating in China that honours the spirits of family ancestors. Everyone who can travels home for family reunions where work bees are held to clean ancestor’s graves and monuments. It is believed their spirits return to visit their families’ household altars.

The Obon ceremony at Nanaimo Public Cemetery, 555 Bowen Rd., starts at 9:30 a.m., will last about an hour and includes a grave clean-up. All members of the public are welcome to participate.

Rev. Grant Ikuta, resident minister of the Steveston Buddhist Temple and the first Canadian-born Bishop of the Jodo Shinshu Buddhist Temples of Canada, will lead the services in Nanaimo and four other Island communities.

For more information, please e-mail Ikuta at rev.ikuta@steveston-temple.ca.