Big Finish for 2011 Obon Season

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Gardena Buddhist Church member Alan Kita, dressed in cowboy hat and happi coat, is seemingly moved by the spirit of dance at last weekend’s Gardena Obon carnival and dance. At least 1,000 people participated in the Obon dancing both days. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

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By J.K. YAMAMOTO
Rafu Staff Writer

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The Obon season in Southern California drew to a close over the weekend with Gardena Buddhist Church’s annual carnival.

The Bon Odori attracted an estimated 1,200 people on Saturday and 1,000 on Sunday, with the circle of dancers on Halldale Avenue extending almost the entire block from 166th Street to Gardena Boulevard.

Church President Arleen Miya said, “This year we dedicate our Obon in memory of our late minister, Rev. Hosho Shindo, who passed away just over a month ago.”

Christine Lee and her five-month-old son Trevor participate in the public ondo. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

A memorial service is planned for Aug. 25 at 3 p.m. at the church.

Miya also thanked the church’s members and affiliated groups for their hard work, and the church’s neighbors for their cooperation.

Rev. Marvin Harada of Orange County Buddhist Church called for a moment of silence and led everyone in gassho.

UC Irvine’s Jodaiko and Gardena Buddhist Church’s Isami Taiko performed both days. Taiko players also kept the beat with the recorded music during the dancing.

Brian Imada served as emcee for the entertainment and odori.

Songs included “Ichi Tasu Ichi” (One Plus One), “Shiawase Samba,” “Sakura Ondo,” “Yosakoi Naruko Odori,” and “Asadoya Junta” from Okinawa. There was also a new song in English, “Mottainai,” by Nobuko Miyamoto and the Eco Band. The song, which has been making the rounds at this year’s Obon festivals, is about the importance of not wasting resources.

This year’s dance instructors, who gave lessons in the weeks leading up to the festival, were Hope Hamamoto, Irene Igawa, Imogene Imada, Nadine Kakimoto, Lauren Kawahara, Sharon Kawakami, Alan Kita, Naomi Mekaru, Arleen Miya, Susan Mukai, Kikuko Nishi, Kim Quon, Mitzi Shimizu (chair), Yasuko Takemoto and Neeley Wauke.

Dancers included members of Centenary United Methodist Church, Higashi Honganji, Japanese Cultural Institute’s Tomo no Kai, Las Vegas Buddhist Sangha (which will hold its Obon next weekend), Nisei Week Foundation, Nishi Hongwanji, Obon Jivers (dressed as Elvis), Orange County Buddhist Church, Oxnard Buddhist Temple, Pasadena Buddhist Temple, Salinas Buddhist Temple, San Diego Buddhist Temple, San Fernando Valley Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center’s Meiji Club, Senshin Buddhist Temple, Sun Valley Buddhist Temple, Venice Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, West Covina Buddhist Temple, and West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple.

Terry Hara, LAPD deputy chief and a board member of the Nisei Week Foundation, invited everyone to attend the 71st annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival, which will be held from Aug. 13 to 21 in Little Tokyo. Highlights will include the parade, the queen coronation, and the gyoza eating contest, he said.

Hara also announced that at the third annual Tanabata Festival, which starts on Aug. 12, “we’re going to remember the tragedy and pay our respects to the people of Sendai and the Tohoku area.”

The Obon Carnival included a variety of game and food booths. The longest lines were for the dango — going out the gate and down the street — and the beef and chicken teriyaki. Corn, Spam musubi, udon, chili rice, tamales, hot dogs, sushi, snow cones and ice cream were also on the menu. By early Sunday evening, almost everything was sold out.

 

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