Photos by J.K. Yamamoto/Rafu Shimpo

San Fernando Valley Hongwanji Buddhist Temple held its annual Obon Festival on Saturday and Sunday at the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center in Pacoma. Above: Actress Shuko Akune, one of the lead dancers in the Bon Odori, is followed by Isabella Shimizu, Lizzie Shimizu, Kimiko Katzaroff, Taylor Yoshino and Emi Xua. The head dance instructor was Joanne Tokeshi, assisted by Akune, Cathy Fujimoto, Nancy Gohata, Jennifer Kajiki, Joy Longworth, Judy Matsuzaki, Tamlyn Tomita, Christine Inouye, and Janet Yamamoto.
Rev. Patricia Usuki asked participants to enjoy the festival but to “also turn our thoughts to those throughout the world who are not experiencing such fortunate circumstances” and to be mindful that all people are “inextricably linked” with each other. Also pictured is SFVHBT President Rod Kuratomi.
The Nishimura sisters, Kathy and Kari, served as emcees and also joined in the dancing.
Keeping the beat on the yagura were taiko drummers Paul Jonokuchi, Craig Kawamoto, Ed Kunimasa, Barbara Okita and Mike Uno.
“Kawachi Ondo” was danced to Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance.” Above: Nancy Gohata and Kisui Fujimoto. Below: Cathy Fujimoto and NJ Nakamura. The other dances were “Memanbetsu,” “Tokyo Gorin Ondo,” “Yagi Bushi,” “Mottainai,” “Hokkai no Abarembo,” “Gassho Ondo,” “Bon Odori Uta” and “Shiawase Samba” (to Michael Jackson’s “Rock with You”).

Kids enjoyed hands-on craft activities and games of skill like fishing.


At the Doughball booth, the winning color was determined by a rolling basketball.
Food booth volunteers were busy keeping up with demand.


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