GARDENA — Gardena Buddhist Church held its annual Obon Festival on Aug. 5 and 6.
GBC’s Bon Odori is believed to be the largest in the Southland, with the number of dancers estimated at well over a thousand. The dance circle was almost a block long on Halldale Avenue between 166th Street and Gardena Boulevard.
UC Irvine’s Jodaiko and GBC’s Isami Taiko performed both days, and drummers also kept the beat during Bon Odori.
Two Okinawan songs, “Asadoya Yunta” and “Ashibainaa,” were performed live by Afuso Ryu Kenkyuu Choichi Kai.
The other Obon dances were “Bon Odori Uta,” “Ei Ja Nai Ka,” “Gassho Ondo,” “Hama Kara Mura Kara Miyako Kara,” “Hibari Ondo,” “Hokkai no Abarembo,” “Honen Bon Uta,” “Kangi-e,” “Kyushu Tanko Bushi,” “Sakura Ondo,” “Shiawase Samba,” “Shinran Ondo” and “Tokyo Ondo.”
Guest dancers included a contingent from Buddhist Temple of San Diego and the legendary Elvis impersonators known as the Obon Jivers.
Opening and closing remarks were made by Rev. John Iwohara. The festival also included Hondo tours, “Introduction to Obon” and “Introduction to Buddhism.” A closing service was held on Sunday evening.
Adults played bingo and visited the craft boutique while kids enjoyed such games as line-a-line, six ball, fishing and whiffle ball as well as a jumper ride.
Food booths offered chicken teriyaki, hot dogs, chili rice, Spam musubi, sushi, shave ice, and dango, which, as usual, had the longest line.
Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo