A Bon Odori demonstration
Bon Odori, Japanese folk dancing, is
held all over Japan during O-bon season, which is generally celebrated
in mid-August. Men and women, young and old, clad in yukata (summer
cotton kimono) dance in a circle around the musicians performing on
a yagura, a temporary stage. The BON FESTIVAL celebrations which welcome
the ancestor spirits on their annual return to the world of the living
and to bid them farewell at their departure.
Momo Suzuki, director of The Japanese Folkdance Institute of New York.
Inc., will be our special guest instructor. She will be teaching us
a basic Bon dance called Hanagasa Odori or Flower Hat Dance. BON ODORI
(BON DANCES): Dances performed annually in either mid-July or mid-August,
as part of the BON FESTIVAL celebrations to welcome the ancestor spirits
on their annual return to the world of the living and to bid them farewell
at their departure. Evolving out of NEMBUTSU ODORI, the popular Buddhist
chants and folk dances of the late Heian (794-1185) and Kamakura (1185-1333)
periods, the Bon odori was first mentioned in late-15th-century literature.
By the Edo period (1600-1868) it was a widespread national custom characterized
by considerable local variation. While in many rural areas the Bon odori
today retains some of its original religious significance, in the cities
it has been greatly secularized. The Bon odori is usually performed
by large groups of men, women, and children to the accompaniment of
music and song. Costumes vary, but loose, cotton summer kimono (YUKATA)
and straw hats are popular attire. The dancers often move in circles
around the musicians or around a temporary platform (yagura) set up
in a broad, open space.
(From Japan, An Illustrated Encyclopedia, Kodansha Ltd.)
Momo Suzuki, director of
The Japanese Folkdance Institute of New York. Inc., and her Bon