In Japan today, it is O-Higan (お彼岸), a holiday in Japanese Buddhism celebrated at the Spring and Fall Equinox. It is said that the etymology of the name, the "other shore", is from "the other shore of the Sanzu River" which river traditionally is said to separate this life from the world of the afterlife, much as the River Hades. The "other shore" can mean as well the world of Enlightenment, which transcends the life and death of this world, this shore. On this day, when the seasons change, the spirits of the dead ancestors are said to be close, and it is a time for communion and remembrance. Many Japanese people will return to their hometowns during the holiday season to pay respects to their ancestors, and Japanese Zen and other Buddhist priests are busy visiting the homes of their temple parishioners to chant for the ancestors in front of the family Buddhist altar.
Further reading and discussion for this talk are available on the Treeleaf forum:
SIT-A-LONG with JUNDO: Enter in Spring, Exit in Fall »