In Hakodate, people celebrate Obon on July 13. Usually in most of other areas in Japan, Obon is celebrated on August 13th and most Japanese companies take obon holidays which usually lasts three days or some generous ones take a week or so.
Why people in Hakodate celebrate obon in July? One reason results from a fact that Meiji government started to use the solar calendar in 1873 instead of the lunar calendar.
If obon falls in August, it would be the time of Hakodate Hachimangu Shinto Shrine's annual Summer Festival which falls on Agusut 15th. It would be busy (for most of Hakodate citizens who want to attend the festival? I'm not totally sure.) So monks who held their danka(Buddhist parishioners ) families gathered and decided "Let's celebrate obon in July in Hakodate!"
Now, I'd like to show you how to celebrate obon actually. Obon is a day when our ancestors' departed souls come home, so we decorate Buddhist family altar more than usual and prepare sekihan(red rice which is prepared on auspicious occasions.) and other dishes and show our delight saying "welcome home!!" Usually we visit our ancestors' graves, too.
Everything we are today, we owe our ancestors, don't we? Yesterday I visited my grandmother's and said hello to my ancestors offering incense to our family altar. Also I took a box of sweets as an offering.
Akiko lives in a city next to Hakodate and loves to drive around Hakodate and surrounding area. I hope people who visit or live in the Southwest area of Hokkaido come to love the area, too. 函館の隣町在住で道南エリアのドライブ大好きAkikoです。道南を訪れたり、住んでいる人が土地を好きになってくれたらなぁ、と思います。