Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Obon

Obon is a Japanese Buddhist tradition.  People believe that their ancestors' spirits come back to their homes to be reunited with their family during Obon.  Obon is celebrated between July and August but mainly between August 13th and 16th in Japan.  Here however, the Obon festivals take place some in July some in August.

We started out Saturday by visiting Forest Lawn and our parents. 

Then we went in search of the Pasadena Hongwanji.  I didn't even know there was a Pasadena Hongwanji.  But apparently, there used to be quite a large Japanese population in the Pasadena Arcadia area.  In fact Santa Anita Racetrack was used as a Japanese Internment camp during WWII.

But I digress.  Pasadena Hongwanji was having their annual Obon festival or 'Matsuri'.  Sushi, shaved iced, roasted corn, beef and chicken teriyaki, somen.  All the first order of the business.  These days, most of the Japanese are Nissei (2nd generation) or Sansei (3rd generation) so lots of spam musubi and beers floating around as well.

Around 6:30 was the main event - the Bon Odori!  Plenty of folk dances and cute little girls dressed up in yukata (lightweight cotton kimonos) and boys in Hapi coats.  The expert dancers were all in the middle of the circle and all you have to do is copy the 'easy' steps and make your way around the circle. 

Next came the Taiko (drum) troupe.  I really enjoyed them banging their hearts out.  Good way to relieve frustration I bet. 

All in all a good day.  Oh and this coming weekend, there will be another bigger Obon festival at the Hongwanji (temple) in Little Tokyo.

Cat Lady

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