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Pasadena Obon Festival Returns July 21-22


PASADENA — “Kangi-E” means “Gathering of Joy” in Japanese and that is the essence of the Obon Festival that will be held at the Pasadena Buddhist Temple on Saturday, July 21, from 4 to 9 p.m. and Sunday, July 22, from 4 to 8:30 p.m. on the temple grounds at 1993 Glen Ave. in Pasadena.

Obon festivals are held throughout Japan and across the United States where Japanese immigrants settled over 100 years ago. The centerpiece of Obon is the Bon Odori (Japanese folk dances) accompanied by live taiko drumming, at 6:30 p.m. each day. Everyone is welcome to participate.

Festivals are more than dancing and this one has it all, beginning with food! There will be a Food Court run by the Buddhist Women’s Association featuring: maki sushi/inari sushi (Saturday), chirashi rice (Sunday), unagi donburi, hand-made manju, tamales, egg rolls, Chinese dessert tarts and cha shu bao, pickled cucumbers on a stick, tofu and seaweed salad, and matcha lemonade.

Other foods for sale include: barbecue grilled chicken teriyaki, beef chow mein with grilled noodles, beef teriyaki, shaved ice, Spam musubi, and on and on.

There will also be 6 p.m. taiko performances by L.A. Ichiza (Saturday) and West L.A. Taiko (Sunday); martial arts demonstrations; Asian-themed vendors (including Heritage Source Book Sellers, Ahiozawa Pottery, Mariko III and Kisanoreen Jewelry); photo, art, and ikebana exhibits; an Opportunity Drawing on Sunday (prizes of $1,000, $500, $300) and a Silent Auction on Saturday featuring a hand-made Hawaiian quilt made by the temple’s sewing club.

The final dance practice will be held on Thursday, July 19, from 7 to 8 p.m. Bring your tenugui (towels), kachi-kachi (castanets), sensu (folding fans) and your enthusiasm. If you don’t have these, no worries. No experience necessary. Everyone is welcome to attend.

Obon and Hatsubon service will be held on Sunday at 10 a.m. Rev. Gregory Gibbs will deliver the English Dharma message and Rev. Tetsuo Unno the Japanese message. Light refreshments will be served after the service, which is open to all.

For more information, visit the temple website at

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