In what has become a reliable and popular Penang tradition, the annual Bon Odori Festival returned to Esplanade, Penang on July 16, treating Penangites and tourists alike to a colourful celebration of Japanese culture and tradition. Celebrated in Japan for the past five centuries, the Buddhist festival was held to honour the spirits of departed ancestors. Over time, it evolved into a family reunion holiday, when families return to their ancestral homes to pay tribute. In Penang, there is less emphasis on the religious aspects, and more on Japanese culture. Visitors were wowed by, among other things, colourful yukata, graceful traditional dances, and a massive fireworks display.