OCBC Dharma School teachers with Nisei Week queen candidates. Back row, from left: Marion Nishimura, Sharon Kawakami, Alison Yoshihara, Irene Yamanishi, Joanne Ishii, Rev. Ellen Crane, Joyce Yada, Gail Kusano, Stacey Suzuki, Teri Futaba, Rev. Dr. Mutsumi Wondra. Front row, from left: Emily Kumagai, Miss San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center; Faith Nishimura, Miss Western Los Angeles (WLA); Maile Yanguas, Miss Japanese Restaurant Association (JRA); Audrey Nakaoka, Miss Gardena Evening Optimist (GEO); Lorie Meza, Miss Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute (PJCI); Amanda Hiraishi, Miss East San San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center (ESGVJCC); Kristine Yada, Miss Orange County Japanese America (OCJA).

By STACY ST. JAMES

Orange County Buddhist Church in Anaheim celebrated the 2022 Obon festival with odori (dance) on July 16 and 17.  

OCBC Cub Scout Maverick Mio volunteering and serving shaved ice.

Obon observances are a time to honor those who have gone before us and to remember them with gratitude. The two-day celebration was an intimate (and private) event this year due to ongoing COVID concerns and attendance was limited to members and their families.

Festival organizers are optimistic that all OCBC community events will return to full capacity in the near future and that anyone who wants to come and join in the fun will be welcomed.

Throughout the entire event, family and friends enjoyed festival entertainment including dancing, raffles, games, and drum performances from Daion Taiko (one of the oldest Japanese American Buddhist taiko groups in the U.S.). Festival menu favorites included teriyaki chicken, cha shu pork, won ton, somen, and fresh corn on the cob. A variety of boutiques featured hand-crafted items, assorted live plants, and delicious baked goods. Also, one-of-a-kind vintage kimono, yukata, and accessories were available at very friendly prices.

Obon dancers included the Ikemoto family (from left): Kelsey, Kristi, Katie and Teiko.

At sunset, festival attendees donned colorful yukata and happi coats and danced to traditional Japanese folk songs as taiko drummers kept time with the music. Dancers and spectators were grateful that temperatures were milder than expected and a cool breeze enhanced the evening’s festivities.

OCBC’s Daion Taiko performs.

Photos by SARAH ANDO

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  1. It was special for our family as it was Hatsubon 1st Obon for a couple of our ono family members = we danced in their memory & ancestors who passed before us. 🙏 Namu Amida Butsu