Bongoya Rituals

Intangible Cultural Property designated by Nikaho City on March 27, 2003
Bon rituals are practiced across Japan on August 15. The Bongoya ritual is a type of Bon ritual, which is characterized by the installation of straw-made Bon huts called Bongoya that are adorned with summary altars to receive the spirits of ancestors. In Nikaho City, children make these Bon huts.
Every year on August 12, early in the morning, children from five local communities make five Bon huts on the Ohma coast. Later that evening, they light a big fire near the huts and repeatedly chant “great great grandfathers, great great grandmothers, come here come here to the fire here.” In this welcome fire ceremony, local residents also visit the huts to receive their ancestors.
On the evening of August 15, the huts are dismantled and set on fire. Children then chant “great great grandfathers, great great grandmothers, go home go home with this fire.” This marks the farewell fire ceremony and the closure of the Bongoya rituals.
The Bongoya rituals have become a rare kind of Bon ritual in Japan with their use of temporary installations. It is a precious tradition unique to the region, in which people receive their ancestral spirits from the sea and then send them back.
Nikaho City Board of Education