Japanese Obon Festival

 The Ontario, Oregon area had a large Japanese poplulation while I was growing up.
After WW2, their families were released from the internment camps. They had lost everything, homes, business, everything.
They came to the area to farm and were welcomed into the valley.
A Buddhist Temple is here, and, every summer they have the "Obon Festival." (pronounced, Oh bone)
It’s a festival of joy, to celebrate and honor their ancestors. They believe on this day the spirits of their ancestors rise and spend the day with them.
There are families who come for reunions, wonderful food,(they sell Bento boxes full of all kinds of goodies, teriyaki steak kabobs, Udon noodles, shrimp kabobs, egg rolls, rice balls, Inari sushi, cakes, pies, etc etc.) displays in the Buddhist temple, and traditional Japanese dances, some performed on a stage, others are dances that the audience can join in the circle around the ‘stage’ and dance.
When I was in grade school, I was enamored of all things oriental. I still am. lol
They have a lady who’s been teaching Japanese dance for many, many years.
Born in Japan, (in the 1920’s) she ended up coming to the U.S. after WW2.
Her professional name is, Madam Fujima. She’s taught Japanese dance, and is well known all over the Pacific Northwest.
A small woman, but very intimidating to a student.
When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I decided to take the free classes they offered. We would learn the dance steps, and during the Obon festival, help others who wanted to join in the dance.
This was before the generations had started to inter-marry, and I always felt that Madam didn’t really approve of me (who at the time was the only caucasion) in the class.
As it was, I couldn’t afford the Kimono that we were to wear, but, I did have a lot of fun learning the dances.
Saturday I went over to the Festival. It’s been many years since the last time I went.
I saw old friends, and my boss from the first travel agent job I had.
He was taking pictures of his grand daughter, while she danced.
 I was amazed that his youngest daughter, who I remember as being a little girl, now had a 13 year old girl herself, and he was shocked at how old my oldest son was.
We both agreed we have gotten older, and don’t know how that has happened.
The very first Obon Festival was in San Francisco in the 1930’s. Ontario, Oregon started having theirs in the 1940’s and has people come from all over to participate.
I had a wonderful time, ate too much, and, I hope, got some good pictures for you to enjoy.
Oh, and yes, Madam Fujima was there, she’s still teaching and she still dances all the dances.

15 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. R U Serious
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 00:40:40

    Wonderful pictures!!  You know me and the Japanese people, what with my Bonsai and all!  Sounds like a wonderful time and I wish I had been there by your side!!!  One question though… Did Madam Fujima remember you!!  She definitely should have!!!  And I hope you introduced your daughters to her!!  What a wonderful experience for you!!
    xoxoxoxo, Bob~


  2. Litespreader
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 10:57:18

    Great entry Stephie!  Thank you for sharing this with us.  I am culturally uneducated.  I know practically nothing about the Asian cultures.. except that it reminds me of Native American\’s.It\’s neat to learn more about you.. that husband of yours doesn\’thave a clue how lucky he is to have you in his presence..  love,t


  3. Jock
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 11:33:54

    There\’s something quite soothing in continuity, isn\’t there? Nice to know that a childhood memory is still a reality.


  4. GERI
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 13:28:55

    Hi Steph
    Just checking in to say hello. Hope you have a great Independence Day tomorrow!!

    Happy 4th
    Love & Hugs,


  5. Stephanie
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 13:32:03

    Bob, I do indeed know of your love for the Japanese people, and you are my sensei, when it comes to bonsai. You challenge and inspire me! You would have had a great time… I think I ate enough for the both of us! lol
    I went by myself, but next year the girls want to go.
    T! Thank you! I\’m always amazed at how similar Asian and American Indian cultures/people are.
    I love learning about other cultures and people. When I was little, that\’s what I would read about, day dream about. Traveling to other countries, and meeting the people.
    Jock, Very soothing indeed. Especially since we moved so many times when I was growing up, that I have very little left from my childhood. So many places have changed or been destroyed, it is nice to know that a few things go on and remain.
    I even remembered some of one of the dances, "The coal miner\’s dance."


  6. Stephanie
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 13:32:45

    Thanks Geri!!!!


  7. Greg
    Jul 03, 2007 @ 21:18:19

    Very interesting…I love to get to know other cultures.
    Yep, we are getting older Kitty Kat.
    Be careful with your fireworks, Greg


  8. Yours Truly
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 16:49:06

    Hi Steph,
    This post is great, something I wouldn\’t get to read about anywhere else.  What does the big drum in the photos sound like? very loud?  How interesting to see the inside of the temple.  I was glad to get your comments on my Space.  Thanks for the visit.  How many cats do you really have?


  9. Delete52Mitch
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 23:31:27

    Great post. Sounds like a wonderful festival, too! Much love from Alabama!


  10. R U Serious
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 23:40:01

    LOL!!  As far as \’Crazy Lady\’s\’ fashion sense, she wore out the \’knees\’ in her housecoat long ago!!  LOL!!  It comes from laying on the ground while pulling weeds!!  She\’s a FREAK!!  But glad she liked your dress!!  The purple, flowered one.  I remember!!
    xoxo, Bb~o


  11. R U Serious
    Jul 04, 2007 @ 23:46:12

    Oh Yeah!!  Those palms were a landmark but when we bought this house 25 years ago, I could prune them while standing on the ground.  Now they are between 40 and 80 feet tall!!!  And we pay $150, twice a year to have them trimmed!  Good riddence! LOL
    xoxo!!  Bob~


  12. DragonBoy
    Jul 05, 2007 @ 03:51:33

    Hiya Steph, thanks for dropping by.  As I opened your site for the first time I\’m greeted by culture, knowledge and interesting entries… things which are strange and alien to dragon\’s domain.  😀
    You\’ve inspired me to introduce a change in the entries that i put on my blog.  The introduction of a new and improved dragonboy… a new, fitter, leaner blog… one that people will visit and exclaim in joy at the magnificence of the information that is displayed before them… small children will weep and there will be a reconciliation of estranged families and communities…
    A blog of such brilliance that…. ooooooooo…. hang on… gotta go… someone\’s just sent me an e-mail about beer that I need to post…
    Maybe i\’ll start the change next week… y\’know… make a fresh start of it.
    See ya  ***cheeky wave***


  13. KatSoup
    Jul 05, 2007 @ 22:01:48

    I loved the pictures and the story.  You always go to the coolest places.  I love to hear about where you have been and what you ate. You didn\’t tell me about the food.  I\’ll bet the sounds and smells are great. I saw one little shrimp kabob.
    Its good to be able to comment 🙂


  14. SAAM
    Jul 06, 2007 @ 07:16:52

    Sounds like fun!!!!


  15. J W
    Jul 06, 2007 @ 13:22:01

    Found you via Greg\’s space and I\’m very pleased that I did.  Like you, I\’ve always been fascinated with the Orient, and with God\’s help, I\’ll soon have the opportunity to visit China.  You have a wonderful space and I can see that you have acquired many loyal friends…this tells me a great deal about your character.  Peace and blessings to you always, and stop for visit if you can.


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