♪ Bon Odori! (2/26) ♪

Hi everyone! Your friendly staff member Stephanie here again, with a recap! On Thursday February 26th, we had our very first Bon Odori (盆踊り) event! I will explain some history of bon odori (including some of my personal experience with it), and recap what happened at the actual event 🙂 Bon odori is a type of traditional Japanese dance that is performed around a wooden scaffold or a yagura (櫓) during bon (盆) festivals. These summer festivals, which end up usually being around July or August, are a Japanese Buddhist tradition and are meant to guide your ancestors back home so you can pay your respects. These festivals are really fun with a lot of food and dancing, and in Japan, each region will have specialties in food, and the song/dance during bon odori.


Obon in Japan!

I grew up in SoCal, and going to obon in LA is a tradition for my family every year. I’ve been heavily involved with my local community center’s obon over the past couple years: from dancing/teaching bon odori, playing taiko and working booths. American obon festivals are different from the ones in Japan and instead of only doing songs from a specific region, we will do dances from all over Japan [ie, “Kyushu Tanko Bushi”, “Tohoku Ondo”, “Ashibinaa (from Okinawa)”, and many more]. I think that is really representative of the Japanese American community and shows how even though we are all from different places, we take pride in being Japanese, and spreading the culture.

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Me (and my sister in the right picture) at SoCal Obon!

I wanted to do the same here at UCSD, so I was really excited when I got the opportunity to lead and teach a Bon Odori event through JSA. Even though obon is a summer tradition, dancing bon odori this week was a good stress reliever during that second wave of midterms :P.

To start off the event, we began with an icebreaker. It was kind of like the app “Heads Up”, so the groups had to act out famous dances and common movements in order to get points. Let’s just say that it ended up being more scandalous than expected (hehehe)



After the icebreaker, my fellow leaders and I started to teach the dances. The first dance we taught was “Kyushu Tanko Bushi (九州炭坑節)” which is a coal miner’s dance from the Kyushu region. It’s a short and easy to learn dance and there are movements like pushing the coal carts, shoveling and holding a lantern over your shoulder.









Tanko Bushi

Tanko Bushi was just the warm up (hehe), and the next dance we taught was “Hokkai no Abarembo (北海の暴れん坊)”, which is a Northern Fisherman’s Dance. There are some cool moves like rowing the boat and yelling “YOISHO” and some complicated movements. It was really impressive to see how quickly everyone was able to get the hard combinations down (I know it took me waaaay longer ahaha).


Hokkai no Abarembo (YOISHO!)

After everyone had the dances pretty much down, we played a game: Musical Chairs! But the catch was that the songs were the bon odori songs and you had to keep moving and keep dancing the dances you just learned. After some crazy rounds and an unexpected ending, Tomo-kun was our champion!


Obon Musical Chairs

Thank you to everyone who came out to the Bon Odori Event, I hope you had as much of a good time as I did! Also, お疲れ様 to my fellow leaders: Sakurako, Nayuki, Billy, Alisa, and Sam! Our next event will be the JSA Movie Night, this Thursday (3/5) at 8 PM at CSB 002.


Thanks for coming everyone!