We joined the Bon-Odori dance festival by Japan Society of Fairfield County last Saturday. It was very fun! Many people enjoyed dancing and watching performances related to Japanese culture. Generally, Bon-Odori dance is not complicated or difficult so anyone from children to older people can dance it. Bon-Odori dance is very open to all people, though it comes from Buddhist customs.
Bon as in Bon-Odori dance came from Japanese belief in ancestral spirits and Buddhist custom. People believe that the spirits of their ancestors revisit this world of life from that world of death in summer.
Many Bon-Odori festivals are taken place in large open areas like central plazas of towns. The festivals have temporal platforms for musicians in the center of the open area. People make circles and dance around the platform.
There are some Bon-Odori festivals near the water like river beaches. I have not seen this type of Bon-Odori festival. But it is very interesting to me. Water is an important element in the Japanese view of life and death. For instance, In ancient Kyoto, people thought of the Kamo River as a border to separate the world for the living from that for the dead. Space near water seems the best place to welcome ancestral spirits.