Japan Society of Fairfield County
Bon Odori, July 7, 2012

UConn TaikoThe 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 lives.   

Junko Fisher & Student 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.  Water Yo-yo gameUnfortunately, 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.

Tanabata/bamboo with
      origami Battle robots 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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