News

Tradition, culture highlight Obon Festival

 

The Palo Alto Buddhist Temple celebrated the Obon Festival for the 62nd time over the weekend.

"Obon is a Buddhist and Japanese tradition; a once-a-year festival to honor our ancestors in a very positive and festive manner," event co-chair Shiz Kobara said.

Events started Saturday (July 31) with a musical performance by members of the temple. A Buddhist service, conducted by resident minister Rev. William T. Masuda, followed. After more music and dancing, the evening concluded with a fencing demonstration.

On Sunday (Aug. 1), traditional Japanese fare, martial-arts demonstrations and an outdoor bonsai exhibit were featured, and the day culminated with the Bon Odori dance.

Kobara's favorite event in childhood was the Bon Odori dance "when everyone got together and participated."

The custom varies regionally, but typically performers dance around the "yagura," a high wooden scaffold built for the festival. Bon Odori is still popular. Even now, Kobara said, "You come, and it's packed."

The dances are homage to the ancestors. Taiko drums are played to "wake up the spirits. That's why they're so loud and thunderous."

The festival organizers try to honor all aspects of Japanese culture, Kobara said, noting the festival has "evolved and become more modern."

— Sophie Stid

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.

Comments

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Downtown Palo Alto gets new Vietnamese eatery
By Elena Kadvany | 12 comments | 6,142 views

More Stupid Plastic Food Things
By Laura Stec | 22 comments | 3,045 views

Composting Works
By Sherry Listgarten | 2 comments | 1,708 views

Environmentalists will soon be fighting housing advocates over what to do with the SF Bay locally
By Diana Diamond | 25 comments | 1,230 views

On Metaphor and Mortality
By Aldis Petriceks | 0 comments | 976 views

 

Short story writers wanted!

The 33rd Annual Palo Alto Weekly Short Story Contest is now accepting entries for Adult, Young Adult (15-17) and Teen (12-14) categories. Send us your short story (2,500 words or less) and entry form by March 29. First, Second and Third Place prizes awarded in each category.

Contest Details