[By Candice Chan]
There are all sorts of traditional dances in Japan, but one of the most famous of these is the ‘Bon Dance’, an integral part of a festival called ‘Bon Odori’. People perform the ‘Bon Dance’ during this festival in honour of their deceased ancestors, in a manner similar to the Chinese celebrating the Chinese Ghost Festival. In Japan, the festival is held every summer, in every district of every city.
In Malaysia, Bon Odori festivals are also celebrated every year around the same time and same month as the Japanese summer, around July to August, though this year’s celebration was postponed to September. The biggest Bon Odori festival in Malaysia was held this year in Shah Alam, Selangor.The Taylor’s Anime Society (TAS) club at Taylor’s University has traditionally organised summer bus trips to Bon Odori every year – and this year’s trip was better than ever! With new members who have just recently joined the club, TAS decided to treat their new recruits to an authentic taste of the culture of Japan. Some members attended the festival adorned in beautiful yukatas, making the experience richer and more immersive, since in Japan people are encouraged to don their traditional attires during Bon Odori.
This year’s Bon Odori might have been a bit ‘messy’ due to an unexpected spell of rain, but this didn’t stop enthusiasts of Japanese culture coming to the festival. There were still a lot of people walking around in the rain, with or without umbrellas – a clear indication of how passionate they were about the festival. All manner of attractions, including Japanese food stalls, games and of course the Japanese cultural dances, brought Japan straight to the festival, and a little rain was not going to stop anyone from enjoying it to the fullest.
There were three sessions of the Japanese cultural dance, so that everyone had a chance to join in. The audience circled a tall platform, with ladies in their yukatas and drummers on stage, demonstrating the dance steps to all the three Bon Odori songs. This year the experience was enhanced for all of us, because we had to dance in the rain as the clouds decided it was the perfect moment to drench us on the spot. But that was alright – everyone enjoyed themselves, and it was fulfilling to see the smiles, laughter and giggles erupting from the crowd.
Despite the rain, the festival was an overall success – people are already planning their next trips to the Bon Odori festival. So why not sign yourself up for this amazing opportunity and join us for more amazing food, games, dances and experiences, slated to come round again in 2015?