West Los Angeles Buddhist Temple in Sawtelle Japantown held its first full Obon Festival since the pandemic, open to the public, on July 22 and 23.
Obon memorial lanterns bearing the names of departed family members and friends were displayed on both days during the Bon Odori, which drew hundreds of dancers of all ages, both WLABT members and representatives of other temples and community centers with happi coats showing their affiliations.
Among the speakers greeting the dancers were Rev. Koho Takata and Rev. Ko’e Umezu of WLABT, who explained the significance of Obon; Grace Mizushima on behalf of the odori instructors; and Michael Amster, field deputy for District 11 City Councilmember Traci Park.
Taiko drummers on the yagura, including Rev. Takata, kept time with the music and Mark Sanwo, who was a vocalist with the Chidori Band in San Jose, sang some of the songs. Young dancers enjoyed their favorite ondo songs, such as “One Plus One.”
Entertainment on both days was provided by West L.A. Taiko and ABA Sonics, a band from Nishi Hongwanji specializing in oldies.
Food booths offered curry rice, beef and chicken teriyaki, won ton, Imagawayaki, chashu bao, Spam musubi, corn on the cob, shave ice, and more. There were games and crafts for kids and bingo for adults.
Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo (except where noted)