Palo Alto Obon Festival A Smashing Success

Obon Festival Program, 2006

Obon Festival Program, 2006

PALO ALTO, CALIFORNIA: Well, another super weekend has passed us by, complete with spontaneous events. After finding out about the Japanese Obon Festival in Palo Alto, I rounded up my friends Yan-Ting and Natalie, and we met at the Palo Alto Buddhist Temple.

Festivals are those rare times when you’re allowed to eat a little junk food, so that’s where we started. After a brief repast of soba noodles, kappa maki, and teriyaki beef, we headed to the Koto Performance (Japanese Harps). It was eerily beautiful, and definitely set the mood. Outside, there was a wonderful bonsai table, where people were fashioning bonsais while you watched. We also found some gorgeous bamboo, but it wasn’t for sale, unfortunately!

Girls in traditional kimonos at the Obon Festival, Palo Alto, CA

Girls in traditional kimonos

There were spectacular flower arrangements inside the temple, as well as artwork. Probably the most fun was people watching. Apparently everyone broke out their Japanese T-shirts for the event, because we saw plenty!

At 5:30 The San Jose Taiko Group performed (Japanese Drums) on the central stage, outside. What a bunch of energy! If you ever get the chance, see this group. They are superb. Later, everyone snuck off and donned their kimonos, then returned to do a group dance finale. I have never seen such a great concentration of color in one small area. The kids were the best part of the festival. They were having a blast in their traditional garb, and not only did they look adorable, they were quite adept at following all the dance moves.

We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day.

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