Mountain View Buddhist Temple held its Bon Odori on July 22 with the 2012 Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen and Court participating. From left: First Princess Megumi Yoshida, Queen Asaki Osato, Princess Manami Kidera, Princess Chihiro Hirai, Princess Miki Fukai. The queen and her court, who are selected during the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco in April, serve as representatives of the Northern California Japanese American community at various events, including Nisei Week in Los Angeles.
The San Jose-based Chidori Band, led by Shig Tashiro, provided live Obon music. Songs included “Tanko Bushi” and “Yakyu Ken.” Established in 1953, the band performs at Obon festivals around the Bay Area and also gives concerts of Japanese songs throughout the state.
On the yagura were head dance instructor Marilyn Ozawa (Sanjo Kanyoshi) and her assistants, Frances Sawamura, Esther Bunya, Toshiko Uyehara, Aiko Sugimoto and YBA President Tommy Koyama. The 400-plus dancers were coordinated by Richard Fujikawa and John Arima. Rev. Dean Koyama led everyone in gassho before the dancing started.
Members of Jun Daiko and Mountain View Buddhist Temple Taiko performed two of the songs, "Fukushima Ondo" and "Eijanaika." The two groups also gave concerts during the two-day festival, with NBC Bay Area's Mike Inouye serving as emcee.
Bon Odori was a family affair. Pictured are Associated Press photographer Paul Sakuma and his daughter Wendy.
Many dancers came equipped with sensu (folding fans), uchiwa (round fans), kachi kachi (castanets) and tenugui (towels) to be used for certain dances; those who came empty-handed were also welcome to join in. Chaired by Yumi Higa and Jits Higa, the festival also featured food and game booths, bingo, a flower shop, a BCA bookstore, crafts, exhibits of ikebana, suiseki and Mataro kimekomi dolls, and hands-on cultural activities for kids.