Sunday, July 22, 2012

Obon Festival in pictures

So if anyone loves their ethnic heritage so much that they want to share that side of them with the entire world, that person is me. I've written blogs about the subject from time to time, made a sincere effort to continue learning about cultural traditions as much as I can - which is hard considering all of the random information I stuff into my brain on a daily basis.

But today was great because I didn't have to force myself to be immersed in one side of my very starkly contrasted ethnic backgrounds. It was all there right in front of me in the form of the Obon Festival.

I've been going to this festival since I was a wee little tot. They hold them every summer at the Orange County Buddhist Church with everything from food to games to entertainment to dancing. People go in street clothes or in kimonos/yukatas (like I was today), and it's just an overall blast - a treat for Japanese and non-Japanese alike.

With all that said, I don't think you should have to wait any longer for what this blog post is actually about: a look at the Obon Festival 2012.

Just outside the festival a self-explanatory banner blows in the wind.

But before leaving (I'm putting these out of order so I can get an appropriate thumbnail for the post), my grandma puts on her make-up. She's so pretty.

Once at the festival we explore the stalls, including those with clothing and handmade crafts.

We purchase Okinawa Dango, a deep fried doughnut-y pastry that is amazing and artery-clogging.

Then we sit down to eat our udon which is the signature dish, always served in the gym at the church.

This is me being the opposite of dainty as I eat udon.

Then we watch as imagawayaki - a fluffy pastry with bean paste inside - is prepared.

Though they got rid of our favorite game booth (drats), we observe other people scoring in their respective endeavors.

And then I stand aside and take photos of little children adjusting their kimonos. So cute.

Until Tori arrives and models Japanese stereotypes for the camera.

Then as taiko drums sound, I distract myself by taking more pictures of little girls in their adorable kimonos. I miss being that cute.

The taiko performance brings out a huge audience.

And once they are done, we dance the night away (my grandma off-screen) - our backs aching and our leg muscles strained and dying.
As you can see, Obon is a fun yearly activity. For all my life it's been something to look forward to - a kind of stable community event that reminds me that not everything has to change when you grow up. And I love that the Obon Festival has grown up with me - consistent every year.

From the years that I used to throw ping-pong balls into fish bowls to try and win a goldfish (poor goldfish) to now when I go all out dressed in a yukata with wooden geta sandals that destroy the soles of my feet, the memories from this place at this time of year never fail to bring joy into my life.

Now if only it happened more than one weekend a year. But I guess that's the fun, isn't it?

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