Aug 27, 2010

Obonai-Bushi Bon-Odori Festival

Bon-Odori is a festival of traditional dances in Japan that takes place during the o-bon holidays (August 13th- 16th). O-bon is said to be when our ancestor’s spirits return home. It is an important time for the family reunion.

Obonai-bushi, is a traditional folksong from Obonai area in Tazawako. Compare to donpan-bushi or akita-obako, Obonai-bushi might be lesser-known; however, many locals and practitioners are familiar with its song and dance.

Obonai Bushi Bon-Odori Festival was held on August 20th at the plaza in front of JR Tazawako Station.

A bon-odori festival in the JR Tazawako Station Plaza

At 7 p.m-- the locals showed up in various costumes.

Before the dance had begun, a local teachers group had a premier performance of the new version of Obonai-BushiObonai-Bushi Samba!

Finally, the main event has begun.

Intermissions were inserted in between the dances, with performances by Ishigami’s children group.


When Ishigami Traditional Arts Preservation Group had a performance trip to Taiwan, they were befriended with another traditional dance group from Ugo Town in south Akita. They are dancers of Nishimonai Bon-Odori -- one of the three major bon-odoris of Japan.

Nishimonai’s performing group guested at our Obonai Bon-Odori Festival this year, bringing a glimpse of the famed dance to the audience in Tazawako.

Nishimonai Bon-Odori is said to originate in the 13th century. It is known for the ghost-like but elegant flow in movement accompanying the high-pitch flute and low beats of drum. The tradition had been once interrupted and banned during the 1920s because the local police considered it to be too “disturbing and mind-stirring.”

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