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.
BIG HUGS, Steph