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The Week of the Equinox

Hi, thank you for visiting our website. This is Yoko from iTWS japan. I visited my ancestor’s grave with my parents last month. It was a sunny day and we had a great time.

Every spring and autumn equinox, there is a week to remember and honor ancestors in Japan. We call it “Higan week” or “Ohigan (polite way of saying). We visit the grave, clean the gravestone, and offer flowers during Higan week. But do you know why we do it in equinoctial week?

“Higan” means “the other side of the river” in Buddhism, that is to say “the world of enlightenment” or “paradise”. Spring and Autumn Equinox days are the days when the length of day and night is equal. It is believed that the distance between this world and the other world will become the closest on those days. Because the sun sets due west and it is said the paradise is located in the west.

When it comes to “Ohigan”, “Ohagi” is a must! It is traditional Japanese confectionary which is covered with sweet red bean paste around sticky rice. It is believed that red beans have the meaning of getting rid of evil. Besides that, people could not have much sugar in the old days. That’s why they offered confectionery using sugar to their ancestors and honored them.

If you visit Japan during equinoctial week, I would like you to try Ohagi. And tell me what it tastes like! Thank you for reading. Please have a nice week!

Yoko Yoshida, a member of iTWS japan LLP
e-mail: yoko.yoshida@i3ws.co.jp

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