There was a soul festival – mitama matsuri – held at our local shrine during Obon last week. With thousands of lanterns, it was so beautiful I went twice. A local group played koto on my first visit, made with a friend over from the UK (the start of a lovely, lovely evening of eating, drinking, and long-overdue late night chatting). Two nights later, we cycled down after dinner, husband, toddler and I, and were greeted by the sounds of a brass band. “Bit like at the festival” our small girl said, as we wandered back through the lanterns.