Thursday, July 19, 2012

Bon Odori Dance Videos

Bon Odori dances
The bon odori dance practice sessions at each of the Buddhist temples teach the same dances that are performed at each of the Bon Odori festivals, so if you plan to attend the Bon Odori in Seattle, but the Tacoma or Auburn location is closer to you, you do not need to drive all the way to Seattle to practice.

If you are unable to attend any of the bon odori dance practice sessions, you can still dance at Bon Odori! The dances are simple and repetitive, and you can have fun even if you don't know all the dance movements! If you would like to acquaint yourself with dance moves of some of the common bon odori dances, you can watch some videos. After fishing around the internet, I found some videos of dance practice for the Seattle Bon Odori, so these dances will likely be in the line-up! Some of the videos are hard to follow, but it at least give you a feel about what to expect. Happy practicing!

Nenbutsu Daiko
a taiko drumming song
Seattle practice video:

(This dance uses two taiko sticks, usually with red and white barber pole style striping. The girls at the dance practice said you can get a thick wooden dowel from the craft store, cut two pieces about 27cm long, paint them white and add a red spiral design with red electrical tape. Some of the ladies even had sticks covered in that new kind of duct tape that have cool patterns on it.)

Shiawase Samba
Happy Samba
Seattle practice video:

Oyama Ondo
Song of Oyama

Dai Hiroshima Ondo
Great Hiroshima Song
Seattle practice video:

Isson Ippin
Sorry, I can't find video for this one. This dance uses an instrument called naruko. They clack when you shake them lightly.
One of the dancers let me use these ones, the color is unusual, normally they are red with black and yellow clacker sticks. You can buy plain un-laquered ones at Daiso for $1.50

Hanami Ondo
Fireworks Song
Seattle practice video:

For this song, the dancers wear LED flashing rings on their fingers, to symbolize fireworks. The dance instructors said that they normally use one ring on each hand, but this year in Seattle many of the dancers are wearing 2 rings on each hand. Flashing rings are optional. Here is an example of some light-up rings:
You can probably find them in party supply stores or where ever you can buy cheap flashy toys.

Sakura Ondo
Cherry Blossom Song
Seattle practice video:

The dancers hold branches of cherry blossoms for this song. Here is a picture of the branches they were selling at dance practice:
You can use any cherry blossom branch you can get in the fake flowers section of a craft store. The dancers at the dance practice had them in all different colors (even dark purple!), and some girls tied pretty ribbons on the stems or silver tinsel mixed in with the blossoms.

Tanko Bushi
Coal Miner's Song
Demonstration video:
You can also see a better video here with subtitled instructions. This is the easiest dance to do.

Soran Bushi
Sorry, I can't find videos for this one. 

Goshu Ondo
I can't find practice videos for this one, just this one video from the Seattle Festival that is hard to follow.

Yakyuken Odori
Baseball Song, a tribute to Ichiro Suzuki. I can't find practice video, but here are other videos:
Video Link #1 (embedding was disabled, therefore I used a link)

Hanagasa Ondo
Flower Straw Hat Song
Seattle practice video:

This song typically uses straw hats covered in flowers, but may use sensu dance fans or uchiwa at our local bon odori.

Dai Tokyo Ondo
Great Tokyo Song
(this dance may use two uchiwa fans)
Seattle practice video:

Sacred Heart (term referring to someone else's spirit)

These weren't one the list of songs I was given, but there are videos of them practiced locally, so I've included them for reference.

Fukushima Ondo
This is brand new this year, to honor Fukushima.

Seattle Bon Odori Samba
I think this is a samba they only do in Seattle

Friday, July 13, 2012

Tanabata Meet-up

July 7th was the Tanabata Festival! The STKC met at the Seattle Japanese Garden and had a great time walking around the garden in yukata, writing wishes, and attended a tea ceremony! And we took a ton of photos! (Click pictures to view them larger)

Katie, Tysen, and Amanda (me) arrived early and walked around for a little bit. There were three Tanabata bamboo trees set up outside, decorated with origami decorations.

Amanda and Katie in front of a Tanabata tree
The garden has many beautiful stone lanterns
We should definitely have another kimono meet-up at the Seattle Japanese Garden. The atmosphere is wonderful, and it is fun to carefully walk across the natural stone walkways.
Beautiful scenery at the Seattle Japanese Garden
Katie photographing a turtle, the turtles were keeping cool in the water!
Shannon arriving at the garden.
It was very sunny, so we found shade as often as we could!

After resting in the shade for a bit, we went and watched some dance performances on the moon viewing platform overlooking the koi pond. Here are some photos and video of the Fujima Dance Ensemble. Most of the videos are just partial clips of the dances, however, the entire dance with the ribbons is recorded in two parts.

After the dance performances, we wrote our wishes on tanzaku strips.

After the dance performances, we attended a tea ceremony at the garden's Shoseian tea house. I think it was the first tea ceremony any of us had attended, other than watching it performed on a stage. The outside walls were taken off, and it felt good to feel the breeze from inside the open tea house. We were told that the walls are put up for a formal tea ceremony and the guests have to enter through a 2 foot square doorway. The ladies were very nice and asked that we sit which ever way we were most comfortable. We tried to sit seiza style, and Shannon and Katie did a very good job at sitting seiza through the entire tea ceremony with very little shifting, but Amanda had to change positions constantly! It is very painful if you do not practice!

Unfortunately we didn't get pictures during the tea ceremony, but we did take some photos of the tea house.

The tea garden's courtyard also had a small tanabata tree with decorations, and we once again wrote tanzaku wishes to hang on the bamboo.
The ladies preparing the tea house for the day's tea ceremonies.
Before leaving the garden, we took some last photos overlooking the koi pond.

If you are in the Western Washington / Seattle area, we hope you can join us for our next fun outing!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Obon Schedule

July 7th was Tanabata, and the Seattle/Tacoma Kimono Club had a great time celebrating tanabata wearing yukata at the Seattle Japanese Garden! I will post photos soon, but I wanted to post the local Obon schedule as soon as possible. The STKC is planning a meet-up at probably the Tacoma Bon Odori, however it anyone wishes to meet-up at the other Bon Odori festivals, let us know! The dates for each location are different, so at least one or more of us would be available to meet-up at the other festivals!

Obon is a joyous festival in Japan that celebrates ancestors and those who have past. Obon consists of a street festival, bon odori (dancing), and tōrō nagashi (floating of paper lanterns), and fireworks. People also clean and visit their family grave sites during obon season.

Seattle Bon Odori 2008, photo by Mizu Sugimura

Bon Odori is arguably the largest and most popular Japanese festival in the Seattle area. In our area, there are four Bon Odori festivals in the area, in Seattle, Tacoma, Auburn, and Olympia, and all of them fall on different days. Seattle is by far the largest of the Bon Odori festivals. Below are the schedules for Obon festivities in our area. I hope you can dress up in yukata and dance at one of our local Bon Odori festivals!

Bon Odori Dance Practice Schedule
Each of the three Buddhist temples that are holding Bon Odori are also holding dance practices for anyone who would like to learn the dance moves ahead of time. You do not need to go to the dance practices in order to dance at Bon Odori, however it helps you feel a little more confident if you plan to dance. The same dances are done at each of the 3 Bon Odori festivals, so you can go to which ever location is best for you, even if you plan to attend the actually Bon Odori at a different location.

Seattle Buddhist Church
1427 S Main St, Seattle, WA 98144
July 9-12th (Mon-Thurs) and the 16th & 17th (Mon-Tue), from 7:30-9pm 
Facebook discussion page

White River Buddhist Temple
3625 Auburn Way N, Auburn, WA 98002
7:30-9pm on the following dates in July:
9th (Mon), 11th (Wed), 13th (Fri), 16th (Mon), 18th (Wed)
Facebook discussion page

Tacoma Buddhist Temple
1717 Fawcett Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402
July 17-19th (Tue-Thurs) from 7:30-9pm
Facebook discussion page

Bon Odori Schedule


July 21st (Sat), 4-10pm
July 22nd (Sun), 3-8pm

Seattle Buddhist Church
1427 S Main St, Seattle, WA 98144
Facebook discussion page

The largest of the local obon festivities. Main event is dancing in an oval around the street, around taiko drummers, and wearing yukata (though some people wear kimono and other wafuku, or regular clothing). Also there is food booths serving food made from scratch using the temple's very old recipes, kori shaved ice, beer/sake garden, martial arts, craft exhibits, and demonstrations.

White River (Auburn) Bon Odori 2010 (source)
July 28th (Sat), 4-9:30pm
White River Buddhist Temple
3625 Auburn Way N, Auburn, WA 98002
Facebook discussion page

The White River Buddhist Temple has already released their set schedule for Bon Odori, I will list the schedule below. They will also have food booths serving: gyudon (beef bowl), Spam rice balls, cold somen noodles in broth, kori shaved ice, hot dogs, mochi, pies, and cold drinks. You can read their event flyer here.
4:00 - Beverage and kori booths open
4:30 - Food booths open
4:00 - Okinawa Kenjin-Kai group performance
5:15 - Children’s Lantern Parade
5:45 - Short opening service inside the temple
6:00 - Greetings and introductions
6:15 - Traditional odori dancing (until 9:30)
7:30 - Seattle Matsuri Taiko Drum group performance

August 4th (Sat), 5-9pm
Tacoma Buddhist Temple  
1717 Fawcett Ave, Tacoma, WA 98402
Facebook discussion page

Dancing, food, and drumming, similar to the other festivals. This festival will conclude with a candle lighting ceremony. If you would like to participate in the candle ceremony, you can find more information about it here.

August 18th (Sat), 4-9pm
Water Street between Fifth Avenue and Legion Way, downtown Olympia, 98501
Facebook Discussion Page

They typically do this one on the second Saturday of August, however all of the city's websites are saying it is August 18th. It may help to confirm the date beforehand if you are going. (360) 791-3295
From 4-9pm, food booths open at 5pm, dancing begins at 7pm.

Tōrō Nagashi

Lantern floating ceremony,  tōrō nagashi often brings Obon festivities to a close, and often commemorates those lost in the bombing of Hiroshima. In Seattle, the tōrō nagashi, "From Hiroshima to Hope", is held every year at Green Lake, and you can make lanterns to honor loved ones who have past on or to honor victims of tragedy..

August 6th (Mon), 6-9:30pm
Green Lake Northwest Shore, South of the Bathhouse Theater Seattle, WA
6pm - Lantern making
8pm - Program (Blessing, speakers, taiko and shakuhachi music)
Dusk - Float lanterns on the lake

Seattle Tōrō Nagashi 2011 (source)