South Bay Celebration

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Gardena Buddhist Church held its annual Obon Carnival on Aug. 3 and 4 with some 1,000 dancers participating on Saturday and 900 on Sunday. People came from several other temples and community organizations as this was the last Bon Odori of the year in the Southland. Popular dances included “Ichi Tasu Ichi” (One Plus One) and “Shiawase Samba.”

Naomi Mekaru, one of the lead dancers.

Among the drummers keeping the beat was Aimee Yamada.

Live music for “Asadoya Yunta” was provided by Okinawa Association of America.

From left: Alan Kita, former temple president and current chief administrative officer for Buddhist Churches of America in San Francisco; Rev. Nobuo Miyaji, head minister; Mitzi Shimizu, head dance instructor.

No Bon Odori would be complete without the Obon Jivers, who appear at every local ondo.

Guest dancers included groups from Orange County Buddhist Church (above) and San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center (below).

Special guests included LAPD Deputy Chief Terry Hara (pictured), representing Nisei Week, and Rep. Maxine Waters.

UC Irvine’s Jodaiko (above) and Gardena Buddhist Church’s Isami Taiko (below) performed separately and together, and also joined in the dancing.

The carnival included games for kids (pictured) and bingo for adults.

Volunteers worked hard to keep up with the demand for dango (above), teriyaki (below), and other dishes.

 Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

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