Today is also the first Obon since the death of the former owner of the house in which I live, and this is known as 'Hatsubon' (literally - 'the first Obon'). Up until now, I've never known of formalised commemoration events other than funerals. In England we might have memorial services and personal traditions such as visiting graves, but Hatsubon is an event with a set pattern to it that each family is expected to follow, and in Japanese Buddhist tradition, it is the first in a series of commemoration events remembering the deceased.
What does this mean in practice?
Well, I can only explain my experience of events. Preparations began yesterday. My jobs included:
(Setting these up, I felt like a child setting up Christmas decorations. When they're complete, the lights inside revolve and flash neon blue and pink.)