I’ve started going to Obon Odori practice here in San Francisco at the Buddhist Church. This is to prep for the San Francisco Obon festival at the end of July. I hear that the big festival is really San Jose and I think that SF has a tiny one compared, but San Jose was too far to drive for practice 3 times a week.
Obon (お盆) or just Bon (盆) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the deceased spirits of one’s ancestors. This Buddhist custom has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves, and when the spirits of ancestors are supposed to revisit the household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years and traditionally includes a dance, known as Bon-Odori.
I used to dance obon with my mom when I was a child and I have always remembered it fondly. It was fun to participate in something cultural and I always loved getting dressed up in my kimono. I hope that it will be a tradition that I will someday share with my daughter or nieces (if I have any). The practices are fun, but it is clear to me that I was never going to make it as a dancer. My coordination is terrible. Alas, I am trying. I shall post pics of me dressed up in the kimono for the actual obon…
Traditional garb including kimonos and obis that Mom dragged out of a box and some props that are used in the dances like fans and katchi-katchi (castenets)