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Bon Odori (meaning simply Bon dance) is an event held during Obon. It is celebrated as a reminder of the gratefulness one should feel toward one's ancestors. Obon is a shortened form of the legendary Urabonne/Urabanna.
Bon Odori originates from the story of Mokuren, a disciple of Shakyamuni, who saw a vision of his deceased mother in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts where she was indulging in her own selfishness. Greatly disturbed, he went to the Buddha and asked how he could release his mother from this realm. Buddha instructs him to make offerings to the Sangha on the fifteenth day of the seventh month. The disciple did this and, thus, saw his mother's release. He also began to see the true nature of her past unselfishness and the many sacrifices that she had made for him. The disciple, happy because of his mother's release and grateful for his mother's kindness, danced with joy. From this dance of joy comes Bon Odori or "Bon Dance", a time in which ancestors and their sacrifices are remembered and appreciated.