Obon and the Bon Odori

 

  photo by Jetalone

During the hot summer months, many Japanese communities in the U.S. have a festivity called Bon Odori or Bon Dance, at the local Japanese temple.  The Bon Odori comes from the Japanese Buddhist custom Obon, usually celebrated from July 13 to 15 of the lunar calendar.  It’s an important occasion when families welcome the spirits of the deceased relatives back to their home and visit and clean ancestral grave sites, offering flowers and prayers.  Many Japanese use this tradition as an opportunity to go home, visiting family, relatives and friends.  I guess it’s like Thanksgiving in the U.S., a special time to reconnect with loved ones and give thanks.

 The Bon Odori began as a way to welcome the spirits.  To describe this dance I would say it’s a type of  Japanese folk dance.  Gathering in an open area, everyone forms a big circle surrounding a center stage that blasts traditional music.  With each song there is a corresponding dance routine.  It’ss truly a family event as children to grandparents follow these simple routines moving counter-clockwise, dancing around the center stage.  This is also an occasion to dress in the yukata, a summer kimono, and wear geta, the wooden slipper.  Nowadays, there is always lots of good food to go along with the dancing!  Often they have a taiko performance too.  The Bon Odori Festival is a great place to enjoy Japanese traditions with the whole family in a fun and casual atmosphere.

Here in Seattle, the Seattle Buddhist Temple is having their Bon Odori Festival this coming weekend, July 21-22 on Main St..  Every year they close off the street and I can guarantee they will have  good Japanese food made by their members.  I know those ladies and they are fabulous cooks.  For more information here is the link:  http://seattlebetsuin.org/index.php/bon-odori-festival/

There are other Bon Dances throughout the States.  Hawaii always has good ones too.  Here are a few links which has this year’s Bon Dance schedules.

From Hawaii Magazine, this is the 2012 schedule:   Hawaii Obon Schedule.

From the Japanese City website here is list of Bon Festivities throughout the States:  2012 Japanese Obon and Bon Odori Schedule

Why not experience a Japanese Bon Odori this summer?  

 

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