Camp Zama hosts annual Bon Odori festival
CAMP ZAMA, Japan -- Nearly 28,000 Japanese and American community members from the local area attended Camp Zama's 55th annual "Bon Odori" festival, held here, Saturday.
Col. Joy Curriera, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Japan, said that it is events like Bon Odori, when the installation is open to allow people who rarely get a chance to see what it's like being on an Army installation.
"We love to host this event," said Curriera., "It is a very special event."
The Bon Odori Festival is open-post event that Camp Zama holds annually, drawing more visitors than any other open-post event. The festival is co-hosted with Camp Zama's Japanese counterparts from the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force.
Bon season is a Buddhist holiday that honors the departed spirits of one's ancestors. The tradition dates back more than 500 years. Many of the participants danced while wearing traditional Japanese summer kimonos, or "yukatas," after having learned the moves from volunteer instructors who offered free lessons in the weeks leading up to the festival.
Throughout the day, visitors had the opportunity to taste a variety of foods, watch the live entertainment, and participate in several games.
Freddie L. Giddens, deputy commander of USAG-J, said this event is a large integration of the local (Japanese) community coming on post providing their culture, and American Soldiers, civilians and family members getting a chance to participate in it.
"What makes this work so well is communication," said Giddens.
The official ceremony began later in the evening, and after opening remarks from Curriera, more than 1, 000 people performed the traditional Bon dance together, around the ceremonial "Bon" dance tower.
"I am very proud that we can bring this type of event, here to Camp Zama," said Curriera.
A fireworks display was held to conclude the evening.