Tacoma Bon Odori this Saturday, August 4

Saturday, August 4 from 5 pm to 9 pm will be a Japanese Buddhist event celebration at the Tacoma Buddhist Temple located at 1717 South Fawcett Avenue Tacoma, WA 98402. This event will celebrate the Japanese’s deceased ancestors. Bob Nakayama, chair person for the Bon Odori event, explained that “Bon” means celebrating deceased ancestors and “Odori” means dance. Bob explained details of the event: “We will be having a Japanese Buddhist event celebration, the Buddhist always celebrated by remembering their deceased each year in the first part of August. We get together, dance, and have music to celebrate the lives of our past ancestors. There will be traditional Japanese dancing, where people line up and dance around the circle. The more dancers, means more circles. We will take several breaks to listen to taiko drums and listen to the Fuji Taiko and the Seattle Matsuri Taiko group. There will be teriyaki chicken bowls for $7, chili rice bowl for $6, shaved ice for $3, cold somen noodles for $3, and spam rice cake for $3.”

The event is free and there is free parking on side streets. Bob shared what he thought of the event, “It’s a wonderful traditional event that we celebrate each year to honor our deceased ancestors. We hope to have good weather and a good time.” When asked the best thing about the event, Bob replied, “150 people dancing, it’s colorful most of the people are wearing Japanese kimonos and attire. They are dancing and there is a lead woman of the group dressed in traditional dance. She is leading in a circle. We have lanterns and a wooden tower for amplifiers for the music and everything’s coming from the announcer.”

Bob explained more about the Japanese culture in Tacoma, “At one time the Japanese community in Tacoma was very large. Since World War 2, many people did not come back because of the relocation effort by the U.S. to relocate the Japanese Americans into internment camps. When they were forced to leave, a lot of people didn’t return. Since we had a really high number of people that didn’t return; our community’s getting smaller. We enjoy having this event every year and we’ve been having this event since the war. It’s a great way for our community to celebrate the Japanese Buddhist traditions.”

Bob discussed more unique details of the event, “The dancing, the music, and people dress up in kimonos. It’s quite festive and more of a celebration. Some dancers come from different parts of Japan, for example, we have a Japanese song dedicated to Hiroshima. There is another song for baseball which is revised to: 1, 2, 3 strikes you’re out and dancers will act like they are swinging a bat. There is one song dedicated to Tacoma called “Tacoma Ondo” written by someone local and someone sings lyrics and the people dance in the same area in front of a tower in a circle.”

Bob recommends families and people interested in the different cultures in Tacoma to attend this Bon Odori celebration. Bob commented: “Although we’re a small community and we have a proud tradition, this event highlights the Japanese Buddhist community of Tacoma.”

For more information, please visit: http://www.tacomabt.org/. “No reservation is required to attend the event, just show up with lots of money,” Bob concluded.

By: Carly Calabrese, staff for Tacoma.com

5 thoughts on “Tacoma Bon Odori this Saturday, August 4”

  1. Sounds like a lovely event! I love so many things about the Japanese culture and I know everyone will really enjoy the taiko drums especially. My children had Japanese taiko drummers perform at their school this year and it was a real treat for absolutely everyone! In addition, the whole school made 1000 cranes to send to their sister school in Japan as a well wishing!! Japan is definitely a country and culture to be celebrated and enjoyed!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  2. Carly this sounds so refreshing to get out of Dodge from time to time even it’s its not a Japanese vacation~

  3. I spent some time in Japan about 12 years ago. It was nice. The Japanese culture is very different from ours obviously. They tend to take great pride in beatification and peace. I have a small japanese garden here. However lol it could use alittle TLC right now. But for those that have never experienced something like this. I think you’d be amazed.

  4. Excellent article by Carly describing the Bon Odori celebration. I remember attending the Bon Odori festivals each year for four consecutive years when I lived in Yokosuka Japan, about ten years ago. People line up and dance in a circle in traditional costumes. It always was joyful experience. People are friendly, and encourage you to participate in the dance; lots of good food available during the evenings.

  5. Very nice article by Carly and accurate description of the event. I remember living in Yokosuka Japan ten years ago and attending four Bon Odori festivals each year and observing the traditional group circle dance in traditional costumes. The people are nice and encourage all to participate. Lots of good food was available.

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