Over the weekend we traveled to beautiful San Diego to celebrate this years Obon Festival. Obon is a yearly Buddhist tradition of celebrating the lives of departed ancestors. While associated with Buddhism, Obon is celebrated and embraced by all, regardless of one’s religious background.
Held at the San Diego Buddhist Temple, we had the opportunity to participate in Bon Odori (folk dances). Bon Odori are easy, rhythmic, repetitive dances which are performed in a circle. Each movement in the dances have a special significance such as digging, threshing wheat and so on. We had never danced Bon Odori before so we joined in the circle of people and imitated what they were doing. It was so fun! One dance we did with both the American and Japanese flag. Everyone had their own set of flags and we did our best to try and keep up!
During our visit many were dressed in yukata (light, traditional summer kimono) or happi coat (short kimono-style top). You can see from the pictures how beautiful the yukatas and obi belts are.
Visiting an Obon festival means lots of yummy things to eat! They had things like yakitori (grilled, skewered chicken), sushi, and wasabi burgers. For dessert they served taiyaki (a Japanese fish-shaped cake filled with a red bean paste made from sweetened azuki beans).
For entertainment they had several different taiko (drumming) groups perform. If you have never seen taiko live, it’s a wonderful thing to experience. The sound is so powerful it really gets you at your core.
It was a great afternoon experiencing the San Diego Obon Festival. Everyone was having a great time. People young and old, Japanese and non-Japanese all shared in the festivities. I’m so glad my family got to experience it.
I thought this was a great quote from the San Diego Buddhist Temple of San Diego’s website. “Our tradition teaches us that just as rain falls on all vegetation, so Buddha’s compassion extends to all people.” It really was a day extended to all.