A mix of traditional and street clothes at the San Fernando Valley Obon. (MIKEY HIRANO CULROSS/Rafu Shimpo)
San Fernando Valley Hongwanji Buddhist Temple will hold its annual Obon festival on Saturday, June 23, from 4:30 to 10 p.m. and Sunday, June 24, from 4:30 to 9 p.m. at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center, 12953 Branford St. in Pacoima.
Attendees can participate in the tradition of Obon Odori dancing (Saturday at 7 p.m., Sunday at 6:30 p.m.), experience drum performances by San Fernando Valley Taiko on Saturday and West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple Taiko on Sunday, and enjoy a variety of Japanese cultural exhibits and tasty ethnic foods.
Dancers of all ages in colorful kimono and happi coats will perform traditional Japanese folk dances celebrating the Buddhist “Festival of Joy,” which started centuries ago as a religious custom to remember and express gratitude to deceased loved ones. All attendees are encouraged to join in the simple and fun dances, led by teachers and the sound of rhythmic music.
Highlighting the festival are Japanese and American foods for sale, including chicken and salmon teriyaki, udon noodles, sushi, Spam musubi, refreshing shave ice, delicious baked goods, and many other delectable items.
Enjoy family carnival games and prizes, enter a raffle for a chance to win up to $1,000, and cool off in the Bingo Hall with its Buddhist bookstore and flea market for Japanese goods and apparel.
Visit the gym and dojo to watch talented SFV Japanese American Community Center performers, and then head to the yagura for taiko and Obon dancing.
So dust off your kachi-kachi and your uchiwa, rustle up your yukata, and get ready to eat, dance, and play the night away.