Dancers practice in JACCC Plaza for the Nisei Week Grand Parade. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)
Dancers practice in JACCC Plaza for the Nisei Week Grand Parade. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Ever want to dance in the Nisei Week Ondo or Grand Parade? This is the year to do it as the Nisei Week Japanese Festival celebrates its 75th anniversary Aug. 15 to 23.

To help the public prepare for the Grand Parade (Aug. 16) and ondo street dancing/closing ceremony (Aug. 23), free ondo classes are being held from 6:30 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, July 21, Thursday, July 23, Tuesday, July 28, Thursday, July 30, and Tuesday, Aug. 4, on the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC) Plaza, 244 S. San Pedro St. in Little Tokyo.

Bring to each practice: two sticks (14 inches long) and one sensu (folding fan). Questions should be directed to Miles Hamada at (323) 620-0662 or

The 2015 Nisei Week choreographer is Los Angeles Bando Ryu Japanese Classical Dance Group, which includes Bando Misasuga/Bando Mitsusa Kai, Bando Mitsuhiro/Bando Mitsuhiro Kai, Bando Hidesomi/Nihon Buyo Class, and Bando Hirosuzu/Bando Kohiro/Bando Hiromiya/Mai No Kai. Collectively, Bando Ryu has choreographed two dances for the Grand Parade, “Sorega Daiji” and “Yorokobi Ondo.”

The Bando School of Japanese Classical Dance is headquartered in Tokyo and was established there in the early 1800s. There are branch studios in the U.S., including Los Angeles, the first of which opened in the 1940s.

Many years ago, a former headmaster of the Bando School in Tokyo, the late Bando Mitsugoro IX, was a Nisei Week Festival parade marshal. His son, the late Bando Mitsugoro X, famed kabuki actor, television star, and headmaster of the Bando School until his untimely passing earlier this year, had a vision to preserve the art of Japanese classical dance in the Los Angeles area. He gave the blessing for the establishment of a combined group of Los Angeles Bando branch studios, the Los Angeles Bando Ryu Japanese Classical Dance Group.

The L.A. Bando Ryu Group is currently composed of four studios: Bando Mitsusa Kai of Los Angeles and San Jose, which was headed by Madame Mitsusa Bando until her passing last year; Bando Mitsuhiro Kai; Bando Hidesomi Nihon Buyo Class under the direction of Bando Hidesomi; and Mai No Kai Japanese Dance Studio under the direction of Bando Hirosuzu, Bando Kohiro, and Bando Hiromiya. Bando Hidesomi Nihon Buyo and Mai No Kai were both established by protégés of Madame Mitsuhiro.

The 2015 Nisei Week Japanese Festival is a nine-day event first held in 1934, and is recognized today as one of the longest-running ethnic festivals in the United States. For a calendar of events, log on to, call the Nisei Week Foundation office at (213) 687-7193, or email The Nisei Week office is located at 244 S. San Pedro St., Suite 303, Los Angeles, CA 90012.

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