Japan Society of Fairfield County
Bon Odori, July 23, 2011

Bon Dancing The Japan Society of Fairfield County held its 18th Annual Bon Odori, Summer Festival, on July 23rd, 2011 in Westport.  It was an appropriately hot summer day.  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.   

UConn Taiko Vice president Yumi McDonald 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 by Richard Fu and Cien Kim. The goal of the group is to explore the art of Taiko drumming in a fun and friendly atmosphere. 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.  Westport First Selectman, Gordon F. Joseloff, who worked several years as a correspondent for AP and CBS in Japan, welcomed us at our sixth Bon Odori held on Jesup Green in Westport. Our first Bon dance was Tanko-Bushi or the coal miners’ dance.  Lots of people joined in the dance while others just relaxed and admired the colorful kimonos. We did Hanagasa Ondo or Flower Hat dance which originated Seido Karatein Yamagata prefecture.  UConn Taiko then performed another set. The Pokemon Ondo was performed next and the children enjoyed dancing with Pikachu masks. John McGettigan's Seido Karate Group did a demonstration and mini workshop on martial arts. The UConn Taiko Group also held a mini workshop, allowing the audience to try out the drums.

We honored two groups which made substantial contributions to the Earthquake Relief effort.  Alice McDonald and Rachel Paul and others from Staples High School conducted a very successful bake sale in Westport. The Lao Association of Connecticut were thanked for holding a Buddhist ceremony in New Britain to collect donations. Howard Phengsomphone and associates from the Lao Association of Connecticut also joined us at Bon Odori.

During the day, we had several ongoing events:  Yayoi Kennedy held a water yo-yo event courtesy of Amnet Travel Agency and the proceeds from the sale of fishing poles to catch water yo-yos were added to our Earthquake Relief fund. Kenshiro Ohshima, Dr. Robot, again brought his battling robots to entertain us all. He showed different toy robots wrestling or doing Sumo. There was also a sale of Japanese round paper fans or “Uchiwa” to benefit the relief fund.

Taiko workshop 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. 
Enjoy the press coverage of Bon Odori. 's entry 1 's entry 2 which includes many photos
We thank Phyllis Groner for these photos on WestportNOW.

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