Japan Society of Fairfield County
Bon Odori and Tanabata, July 26, 2008

composite Japan Society of Fairfield County continued to celebrate its 20th anniversary with a Bon Odori Summer Festival on Jesup Green in Westport.  We had two very special guests this year.  The festival was opened by Mr. Gordon F. Joseloff, First Selectman of Westport.   This year we were very fortunate to be able to add Mr. Ichiro Oikado, a traditional strolling performer from Japan,  to the 2008 celebration.

Also new to our Bon Odori celebration this year were the O-Tatsu Taiko drummers who gave a rousing performance and then invited the audience to come and join in and try drumming for themselves.  This year O-Tatsu Taiko donated their performance in memory of  Noboru Uezumi, who served as a bridge between US and Japanese culture in the Fairfield area.

Junko FisherA new dance was introduced this year by our dance instructor, Ms. Junko Fisher.   This was the Okinawa "Inashiri Bushi" dance.  After a quick lesson, the audience enjoyed joining in both with this dance and the more familiar “Tanko-Bushi” and “Chowa Ondo” dances.

Mr. Oikado went to a Shinto Temple at age 10 to learn Taiko and folk dancing and has been traveling in South American for the last year and a half.  Over the years, many  Japanese have emigrated to South America.  His Lion Dance was a particular favorite.  He explained, “Lion dance means to eat all negative things and bring good luck.”

Water Yo-yos Just in case the Lion Dance luck was not enough, children could also Make a Wish at the Tanabata Star Festival.  Along with a Water Yo-Yo, courtesy of Amnet, and their wish on a decorated bamboo shoot, the children were happy and the parents could relax and just admired the beautiful summer yukata and kimono.

Traditional Japanese strolling performer
A 400 year old tradition

Ichiro Oikado Ichiro's Carp costumeIchiro, a traditional strolling performer, was such a favorite at the JSFC’s Bon Odori festival that the society asked him to return to Greenwich for some additional performances.  Coming from a 400 year old tradition, Ichiro has been ‘’strolling” for the past 20 years performing at fairs, street festivals, nursing homes, kids parties and private homes.  He has just arrived in New York after over a year in Latin America.  The residents of Nathaniel Witherell were thrilled by his Lion Dance which “eats negative things and makes joy.”  Visitors to the St Catherine of Siena Carnival were surprised to encounter a range of Japanese characters appearing between the big band events.  The children at Greenwich point were laughed and screamed as first a lion approached then magically turned into a Japanese lady who kissed them.  But the greatest fun was at the end when the kids were made up like the performer and could crawl through his long carp costume.

Many thanks, Ichiro, and good luck on your travels.  Next stop London

Enjoy the press coverage of Bon Odori. 's photo 1 's photo 2

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