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盆踊り Bon Odori – Day of the Dead Dance – 1st Night

It has been 21 years since I saw my last Bon Odori. The dancers came right down the street I was living on at the time in Kofu, Yamanashi Ken. Fast forward to the present and the morning after we arrived in Japan. I saw an announcement that the local shrine in Nishi-Waseda was having a Bon Odori on that very night and the following evening as well. I was so excited!

bon odori torii

My family didn’t have the energy to attend, and my daughter feel asleep before the dance began, so I headed to the shrine on my own. It is only a two minute walk. The music began just as I arrived. There were only a dozen or so dancers. The dancers’ husbands were all sitting together, in matching yukata, fanning themselves.

bon odori dancer husbands

As the music reached the ears of our neighbors, they all seemed to creep out of their homes and make it to the shrine. By the time I left, an hour later, over a hundred people were in attendance, and the number of dancers had increased by several fold.

bon dance nishiwaseda tokyo japan august 15 2009

I was, of course, the only non-Japanese person there. The whole evening was enchanting. I felt as though I had traveled through time and space. The tall, modern, Tokyo buildings couldn’t be seen in the darkness. The light from the paper lanterns was dim, and the shrine in the background provided the perfect setting. My lack of a yukata and foreign looks seemed to ruin the authenticity so I stayed back in the shadows.

dance of the dead folk japan bon obon odori taiko drumming

I’ll wrap up day one of the Bon Odori with this video (which I actually took on the following night). There will be more from the August 16, 2009 天祖神社盆おどり in tomorrow’s entry.

2 Responses to “盆踊り Bon Odori – Day of the Dead Dance – 1st Night”

  1. 1
    Gail:

    Fantastic! This is the sort of thing I absolutely love about Japan. Lovely photo at the top there.

  2. 2
    Tornadoes28:

    The husbands all look very hot.

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