Natsumatsuri: Bon Odori

While the Museum prepares for Natsumatsuri on Saturday, August 10th, we thought we’d get everyone pumped by putting a spotlight on some of the upcoming activities! Look forward to more of these posts explaining Natsumatsuri traditions.

Ondo dancing at the 2007 Orange County Buddhist Church Obon.
(Photo: Vicky Murakami-Tsuda)

 

This August, come get your groove on at JANM! The Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple will be teaching bon odori, or traditional Japanese folk dances often performed at obon festivals in the summer.

During a bon odori, dancers line up and perform to traditional folk songs along with the beat of a taiko. The dancers, nowadays often multi-generational and multiethnic, circle the drummer, who is perched on a raised wooden scaffold. The songs vary from festival to festival, with different regional favorites (such as Tokyo ondo or tanko bushi, the coal miner’s dance). Some odori use props like kachi kachi (small wooden clappers) or different types of fans.

Although the style dates back all the way to the late Heian (794-1185) period, the first bon odori in Los Angeles was in 1933 or ‘34 at the nearby Hompa Hongwanji temple. Today, you can find bon odori at obons all across California, from Los Angeles to San Jose.

See for yourself what a bon odori looks like in this video of a Nishi Hongwanji obon!

 

(Video: Ralph Moratz)

2013 Natsumatsuri Family Festival
FREE ALL DAY!
Saturday, August 10, 2013
11AM – 5PM

1PM: Obon History & Traditions
What is Obon all about? Rev. Bill Briones of Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple will discuss the history and traditions of Obon in Japan and the United States

2:30PM: Obon Dance Demonstration
Get ready to dance! Nishi Hongwanji Buddhist Temple will show you how to dance traditional Obon dances

For full schedule of activities: janm.org/natsumatsuri2013

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