BURBANK — With uchiwa fans waving and the sounds of taiko, 1,392 students and faculty of John Muir Middle School in Burbank set an unofficial record for the largest ondo fan dance, as part of their 5th annual Japan Day festivities on Sept. 21.
Eleven students and two teachers from remote Rebun Island, Hokkaido visited the school for the occasion. Rebun is located off the northwestern tip of Japan’s northernmost main island and its high school has only 23 students. The Rebun students joined in a day of Japanese cultural activities including a calligraphy class taught by Yasuji Matsuoka from Beikoku Shodo Kenkyu-Kai and an interactive class on anime.
The Rebun International Exchange Program was organized by Akiko Agishi, president of Creative Enterprise International, Inc. and the Aurora Foundation. The exchange program was created to encourage families to stay on Rebun Island by giving students the opportunity to study abroad.
Christine Inouye taught the students and faculty, and local obon hoppers and members of the Little Tokyo Dance Club also joined in the dancing. On the John Muir athletic field, the dancers formed wide circles around the wooden yagura brought from Little Tokyo for the historic event.
The results will be sent to the Guinness Book of World Records for final authorization. If they are certified, the school will have beaten the previous record of 250 dancers.