Dancing with Spirits

Bon odori (folk dance) widely practiced on Obon nights at parks, gardens, shrines, or temples wearing yukata (summer kimono).

In Japan, August is the month for Bon Odori traditional dance festivals. It is the time of year for Japanese to remember and honor their ancestors and to celebrate their eternal presence in their daily lives.

Bon Odori is widely practiced on Obon nights at streets, parks and gardens, wearing colorful yukatas (summer kimono) or stylish kimonos, complete with thunderous Taiko drums and magnificent fireworks.

Obon in Japan

This is a joyous time of the year in every city and town. Bon Odori dances and the music that accompanies them have a highly local flavor, and different regions of Japan have their own proud, unique styles.

Awa Odori

In Awa Odori women dance and sing in unison. Steps are sharp and crisp, performed in small movements restricted by tight, colorful kimonos.The Awa Odori style from Tokushima region in southern Japan is one of the most stunning sights and sounds of Bon Odori .

Large groups of women (sometimes in hundreds) dance and sing chants in unison.

Dancing on the tips of their wooden geta sandals, steps are sharp and crisp, performed in small movements restricted by tight, colorful kimonos.

Hand movements are highly stylized with graceful skyward gestures.

About Obon

Obon is a Japanese custom for remembering and honoring the spirits of one’s ancestors.  During this time, spirits are invited back home for a family reunion of sorts.

At the end of obon, Japanese light bonfires float lanterns to signal the spirits that it is time for them to return to the spirit world.To prepare for Obon, Japanese clean their houses and make elaborate dishes as offerings to the spirits of their dear departed.  On the first day of Obon, they make “welcome” bonfires (mukae-bi) outside their houses.

At the end of three days of festivities, they light “farewell” bonfires (okuri-bi) and float lanterns to signal the spirits that it is time for them to return, till they come back again next year.

Yuri

Yuri

Yuri is a contributing editor for Miyazaki Whispers. She has graduate degrees from Ochanomizu University in Tokyo in Japanese classical arts and Yamaguchi University in nutrition and food science. Yuri’s interests are Japanese herbal science and yoga.
Yuri

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Yuri

About Yuri

Yuri is a contributing editor for Miyazaki Whispers. She has graduate degrees from Ochanomizu University in Tokyo in Japanese classical arts and Yamaguchi University in nutrition and food science. Yuri’s interests are Japanese herbal science and yoga.
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One Response to Dancing with Spirits

  1. mirela says:

    Sounds wonderful! I would really like to experience and see with my own eyes one of these traditional dance festivals. I think it would be an unforgettable experience, especially the Awa Odori.
    Greetings from Romania -Europe! ^_^
    Mirela

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