Japan Society of Fairfield County
The Japan Society of Fairfield County
held its 19th Annual Bon Odori, Summer Festival, on July 7th, 2012
in Westport. The day was forecast to be a scorcher with the
temperature humidity index going to 100F, but it clouded over and a
very light sprinkle of rain occasionally fell so we were spared the
worst of the heat. Bon Odori is Japan’s main outdoor summer
festival and has been celebrated for almost 1400 years. People
return to their ancestral homes for a fair that can last about a
week and includes carnival rides and fireworks. It is a time
to appreciate our ancestors and to recognize their influence on our
Bon Odori, July 7, 2012
Associate Director Mayumi
Kleinman served as our Master of Ceremonies. The UConn Taiko Group,
directed by Bob Jane, led off the program. UConn Taiko
is based at the University of Connecticut in Storrs and was founded
in 2004. They practice Kumi-Daiko, an ensemble style that fuses
traditional Japanese Taiko drumming with modern influences. Members
include students, graduates, and members of the UConn community.
They usually perform at or near the university, but often travel
around Connecticut to share their art. Unfortunately, Westport First Selectman,
Gordon F. Joseloff, was unable to join us this year. Deputy Director
of the Japan Information Center, Consul Yoshito Yamashita, gave the
opening speech, reminding us that Japan is still recovering from the
Earthquake Tsunami. Our first Bon dance was Hanagasa Ondo or Flower
Hat dance which has its origins in Yamagata prefecture. Junko
Fisher then sang Okinawa Sodachi (glowing up in Okinawa),
Paradise Urumajima (Island of Paradise), and Hana (Flowers for
every heart) while accompanying herself on the samisen.
A quick round of Tanko Bushi or the Coal Miner's Dance was added to
our program at the request of Yumi McDonald who had a house full of
visitors from Japan who joined our Bon Odori. The Pokemon Ondo
was performed next and the children enjoyed dancing with Pikachu
masks. At the end of our Bon Odori, Junko Fisher improvised a
performance of Asadoya Yunta with UConn Taiko. The UConn
Taiko Group also held a mini workshop, allowing the audience to try
out the drums.
For the children's part of the program,
we had several events running in parallel: Harry Sakamaki held
a water yo-yo event . Kenshiro Ohshima, Dr. Robot, again brought his
battling robots to entertain us all. He showed different toy robots
wrestling or doing Sumo. Two large stalks of bamboo were decorated
with origami prepared by our members and children, young and old
were encouraged to write good wishes onto tanzaku to hang on the
bamboo as part of our Tanabata Celebration.
We thank Matsu Sushi for
their support where we enjoyed a delightful Japanese dinner after
the event as well as their beverages sold throughout the afternoon,
the proceeds being donated to JSFC.
Enjoy the press coverage of Bon Odori.
We thank Phyllis Groner for these photos on WestportNOW.
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