Dancers and musicians enjoy Bon dancing at the Okinawa picnic.

This year will mark the sixth year of Okinawan Bon dancing at the Okinawa Association of America (OAA) Picnic, which will be held on Sunday, July 8, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Whittier. Everyone is invited to participate.

The event will feature dancing drummers, Bon dancers and sanshin (a three-stringed instrument similar to the Japanese shamisen) musicians and singers.

The dance’s origin is a Buddhist ritual to soothe the souls of ancestors during the summer Bon (or Obon) festival. Eisa Bon dancing includes popular and lively Okinawan folk songs.

Bon dance practice will be every Wednesday night in June at 7:30 p.m at the Higashi Building of the OAA Center, 16500 S. Western Ave., Gardena. All practices are open to the public.

The OAA Picnic will be held early this year at Whittier Narrows Recreation Park, Area E-1, 750 S. Santa Anita Ave., South El Monte. Teriyaki chicken bento orders and pre-sale raffle tickets for the picnic are also available. Contact the OAA office at (310) 532-1929 or for more information.

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