Temple's Obon fest celebrates family
The thrumming of Japanese taiko drums reverberated through the air during a recent practice at the Mountain View Buddhist Temple. Participants chanted and performed traditional dances in preparation for the temple's largest festival of the year, set for Saturday and Sunday, July 21 and 22.
Members of the temple will honor their ancestors in the temple's 59th annual Obon Festival and Bazaar this weekend, inviting the public to celebrate the Japanese holiday with dance, art, food and games.
The festival will run from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Saturday, and from 12 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Sunday at the temple, located at 575 North Shoreline Blvd.
Saturday's events include game booths for children and adults, Ikebana flower arrangement and Mataro Kimekomi doll exhibits, bonsai -pruning and calligraphy lessons, and a taiko performance by semi-professional group Jun Daiko at 6 p.m.
Many of Saturday's workshops and games will continue on Sunday, and the festival will culminate in a performance of the traditional Bon Odori dance by about 400 dancers from 7 to 8:30 p.m., accompanied by the San Jose Chidori band.
Although Obon focuses on honoring those who have died, the holiday evokes celebration in remembrance of family. It is also called "Kangi-e," meaning "gathering of joy."
"In Buddhism, it's taught that we should live in the moment," says John Arima, a temple board member. "It's also a time when we reflect on the importance of our past, our ancestors, who made it possible for us to live in the moment today."
Rev. Dean Koyama says he expects thousands of visitors to this year's festival, made possible through the efforts of hundreds of volunteers. The festival acts as a fundraiser — while admission is free, participants must pay for the food, games, and crafts on sale. All proceeds go towards the temple.
While everyone enjoys the festive atmosphere of the event, Koyama reminds participants of Obon's spiritual roots.
"A lot of people just think that it's just a festival," Koyama says. "It's more than that, it's based upon the teachings of the Buddha. It's a spiritual observance."
More information on the festival and its events is found at www.mvbuddhisttemple.org, or by calling 650-964-9426.