I returned home recently from a long drive with my family, and as we got out the car we could hear a rhythmic drumming and the faint sound of a traditional Japanese song. A quick search for the source of this sound and we found the local ‘Bon Odori’ festival in a nearby park.
The colorful lanterns that surrounded the central square platform provided a pleasant ★ambience and friendly feel to the festival, and I quickly remembered how much I enjoy these events. As is ★customary, several people dressed in traditional clothing stood on top of a small tower banging two large drums in time to the traditional music. Many of the local residents had come to celebrate the festival; some were dressed in yukata and jimbei. When they formed a circle around the central platform and began to dance, my family and I joined in. People of all ages were dancing and enjoying themselves, and there was a real sense of ★community spirit. At the end, my children were given a small gift by the festival organizers. It was a lovely evening.
These small community festivals that are held throughout Japan help to maintain tradition and ensure that future generations understand older customs. From a foreigner’s point of view, these simple community events provide a contrast to other countries where such customs have sadly been lost over time. I look forward to next year’s ‘Bon Odori’ and may even wear my jimbei!