Mitsuwa's Bon Odori Festival

Last weekend, Mitsuwa had their annual Bon Odori Dancing festival. The Bon festival is typically the festival of the dead that which citizens remember their loved ones. Nagasaki has a pretty elaborate Bon festival that spans 3 days. One of the shrines from Suwa Shrine is brought down to the Harbor where it is clearly visible for the spirits to gather and collect amongst the living. Loved ones can go to the Harbor and see their loved ones who had died over the past year. On the third day, loved ones light a candle in a little paper boat and send it down the river to guide the spirit through the River Styx.

Something like that anyways.. This was one festival, I wish I was still over there to see. Bon festivals take place towards the end of Summer. Typically sometime between the end of July and the beginning of September. Nagasaki's Bon festival takes place in the middle of august. Around the same time, St. Paul, Minnesota also celebrates Nagasaki's Bon festival, since they are "sister cities," which makes it a great excuse to go home and visit my parents.

Anywho.. Mitsuwa changes this a little bit by adding 'Odori', which is 'to dance.' Mitsuwa's Bon Odori festival was more of the celebration of life, than the remembrance of the dead. I wonder what region this change originated from.

Mitsuwa had a pretty damn big turnout. It reminded me a lot of our school's festival in Japan, but with a lot less participation. Mitsuwa had a larger turnout with less to do.

Inside was pretty packed too. Several stands were setup showcasing some of Japanese greatest festival food items, such as Okunomiyaki and Yakisoba.. No squid on a stick, though :/

The real show was the stage outside in the parking lot. They switched off between traditional japanese stuff, and uninspired contests. They had Chicago's professional Taiko Drummasters, and Chicago's Okinawan dancers.

I was really disappointed they didn't have Soran and Yosakoi. These were the two traditional dances that Maki, Mika, Natchan, and Mayu taught us foreigners. Perhaps, in one years time, I will assembled a Soran team of my own and bring this time honored tradition to Mitsuwa.

Anyways, it was pretty fun. It was really cute to see so many kids having a great time, and it was great seeing everyone in a festival type mood.

They really need more food vendors and parlor games to bring the essence of a japanese festival to life, though. I guess too many people have real jobs.




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