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