Sunday, August 07, 2005

Bon Odori Festival

It's been a rough weekend and Sunday isn't even over yet. The hubby is gone for a few days for work and I am faced with being alone. I haven't been alone since we moved in together over three months ago. When I mean alone, I mean we haven't spent a night apart for the last three months so this is a little strange. It's really a different kind of "being alone" since I know he will be coming home in a few days.

Even though we've had a pretty rough weekend, we did get to go to the annual Bon Odori festival yesterday. I wasn't sure what to expect since this is N.C. and I haven't really seen a viable Japanese-American or even a Japanese community. But apparently there are many Japanese expatriates living here, hence, the Bon Odori festival. The Bon Odori festival is held in Japan during the summer months. This custom came to Hawaii when many Japanese immigrated to the islands to work in the cane fields. My familiarity with the festival stems from my upbringing as a Buddhist. Throughout the summer, every Buddhist temple in Hawaii sponsors a "Bon Dance" as we called them. The Bon Odori or Bon Dance is a time of celebration even though its meaning may seem a bit somber. You see, the Bon Dance is a time when you feel closer to those ancestors who have passed on. When you participate in the dance, you are dancing with your ancestors who have long passed away.

Yesterday's Bon Odori had the same meaning but essentially was more of a festival with food booths, games, and various Japanese trinkets for sale. They also had a taiko (Japanese drum) performance, tea ceremony demonstration, flower (ikebana) arranging displays, and, of course, the Japanese dancing. They played some familiar and some unfamiliar songs for the dances but as I was standing there, I could almost imagine being back home again feeling the early evening breezes blowing. This was a new experience for the hubby, the Bon Odori festival, but I could sense he enjoyed it very much and he said he did. I have included two pictures from yesterday's outing. The first is a picture of the yagura or tower that is usually the center of the dancing. The dancing is done around the yagura and anyone is invited to dance, young and old, experienced and inexperienced, dressed in Japanese clothing or not. The hubby saw it as "Japanese line dancing." The second picture is the taiko group called "Zero Taiko" that performed throughout the afternoon. Two of the members (pictured) were particularly striking in their performance as you can see.