Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bon Festival

"Obon (お盆?) or just Bon (?) is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the spirits of one's ancestors. This Buddhist-Confucian 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.

 Bon Odori (盆踊り?), meaning simply Bon dance is a style of dancing performed during Obon. Originally a Nenbutsu folk dance to welcome the spirits of the dead, the style of celebration varies in many aspects from region to region. Each region has a local dance, as well as different music. The music can be songs specifically pertinent to the spiritual message of Obon, or local min'yo folk songs. Consequently, the Bon dance will look and sound different from region to region."

Typically each neighborhood holds its own Bon Odori festival in their local park.  This past weekend the base held one open the the public.  In the afternoon they had the American festival involving a concert, an eating contest, and food stands.  In the evening everyone gathered around the big tall stage covered in paper lanterns to watch the Bon Odori dancers and drummers.

We actually got to attend the Bon Odori last year soon after we arrived in Japan, but it's still always fun to eat all the goodies, hang out with all of our friends, and get dressed up.   

We had a difficult time getting everyone to look at the camera.

...and look good.  Our last family photo for a while.

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