Inku
Japan Society of Fairfield County
Bon Odori and Tanabata, July 11, 2009

Pokemon DanceThe Japan Society of Fairfield County held its 16th Annual Bon Odori, Summer Festival, on July 11th 2009 in Westport.  Held annually all over Japan since 657 A.D., Bon Odori is Japan’s main summer festival with Buddhist folk dances performed outdoors.  Over time this event has become a joyous memorial festival for one's ancestors.  It is a time to appreciate all that our ancestors have done for us and to recognize the continuation of their influence on our lives.   

Following an opening welcome and speech by Westport First Selectman, Gordon F. Joseloff, the festival started with some traditional folk dancing led by Junko Fisher.  The first dance was Tanko-Bushi or the coal miners’ dance.  There were lots of people joining in the dance while others just relaxed and admired the colorful kimonos.  This was followed by Chowa Ondo or harmony dance.  Then, especially for children, Pokomon Ondo, a dance that is easy to learn whatever your age!  For a finale Junko Fisher led Asadoya Yunta, an Okinawa dance.

U Conn TaikoThe U Conn Taiko drummers did a great job attracting a crowd with their drumming.  Taiko literally means “fat drum.” The rumbling power of the taiko has been long been associated with the gods.  Following their performance, the U Conn Taiko Drummers invited all the kids to a loud, crowded and enjoyable mini-workshop.

In-between, the children had a chance to fish for a water yo-yo courtesy of Amnet Company or try their hand competing at Japanese grand sumo wrestling with small toy robots courtesy of Dr. Robot.

TanabataEveryone stayed till the last moment to celebrate Tanabata, the Star Festival, writing a wish on a tanzak, a small piece of paper, and hanging it on a long bamboo pole decorated with origami to take home.  Tanabata, meaning “seven evenings,” celebrates the meeting of two stars; Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair). The Milky Way separates these lovers and they are allowed to meet only once a year. 

The weather cooperated and it was a wonderful day.  We all look forward to the 17th festival in 2010.

Water yo-yo
Enjoy the press coverage of Bon Odori.
WestportNOW.com 's photo 1
WestportNOW.com 's photo 2
WestportNOW.com 's photo 3
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WestportNOW.com 's photo 7

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