Bon Odori festivals
NISHIMONAI BON ODORI is 4.5 hours north of MISAWA AIR BASE, and attracts over 100,000 spectators every year. Streets are lit up with bonfires and lanterns to attract ancestral. Dancers parade along the street to the music of singers, flutists and drummers on wooden stages along the way. Although you are not allowed to dance in the event, you can learn how to dance with skilled dancers at the town community center at 2 p.m. each day. Aug. 16-17, 7-11 p.m., 18; 7-11:30 p.m., Nishimonai, Ugo Town, Akita Prefecture; Tel: 0183-62-2111; URL: ugo.main.jp/bonodori.
NOMO BON ODORI is just 2 hours from SASEBO NAVAL BASE and is unique in that it takes place during the day. Located in the fishing town of Nomo, residents visit six shrines and temples to make Bon Odori offerings before taking to the sea to offer dance and musical performances to the gods of sea. Although the festival moves around, you can see the core part at Zotokuji Temple around 10:30 a.m., then follow it from there. Aug. 13, 9 a.m. -4 p.m.; Nomo Town, Nagasaki City (5-minute walk from “Nomo” bus stop); Tel: 095-893-1139.
TSUWANO TONOMACHI BON ODORI is about 2 hours from MCAS IWAKUNI and residents in black scarfs, white head bands, white short kimonos and black tights dance while parading to slow and elegant old Japanese folk music. You can join the dancing and parading in the old historical streets under dim light of lanterns. Aug. 15, 8 - 9:30 p.m.; Tonomachi district, Tsuwano Town, Kanoashi-gun, Shimane Prefecture (9 minute walk from JR Tsuwano Station of Yamaguchi-line); Tel: 0856-72-2070.
TSUKIJI HONGWANJI TEMPLE BON ODORI FESTIVAL is designated as one of the eight beautiful night views of Chiyodaku, Tokyo, with 30,000 participants every year. Enjoy various food and entertainment booths. Jul. 29-31 7-9 p.m., Aug. 1 6-8:30 p.m. Tsukiji Hongwanji Temple, Chuo-ku, Tokyo (near Tsukiji Station of Toei Hibiya Line); Tel: 03-3541-1131; Website: tsukijihongwanji.jp/2015/06/4152.
HIBIYA PARK BON ODORI FESTIVAL is one of the largest Bon Odori in Tokyo with 40,000 participants every year. People dance to the festival’s original Marunouchi Ondo beat. Live music, various foods and amusement booths surround the site. Aug. 28 and 29, 6-9 p.m. Hibiya Park, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo (near Hibiya Station of Toei-Hibiya Line); Tel: 03-3503-1561.
OEDO MATSURI BON ODORI FESTIVAL draws over 60,000 people every year. Enjoy Japanese traditional performing arts and fair stalls as well. Aug. 21-22; Hamacho Park (near Hamacho Station on Shinjuku Line) 2-59-1 Nihombashi Hamacho, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. Tel: 03-3546-5336; Website: www.city.chuo.lg.jp/kurasi/komyunitei/ooedomaturi.html.
IKEGAMI HONMONJI TEMPLE SOUL FESTIVAL BON ODORI in Ikegami, Ota-ku, Tokyo, Aug. 4, 6-9 p.m., Aug. 5, 7-9 p.m. Bon Odori, along with a Buddhist service in the main temple and a dancing parade along the temple’s illuminated stone steps. The first 700 people to arrive get a free fan. 5-minute walk from Ikegami Station on Tojo Line or Toei Asakusa Line; 03-3752-2331.
ROPPONGI HILLS BON ODORI FESTIVAL in TOKYO offers Bon dancing and varieties of food booths at Roppongi Hills Arena. Aug. 21 5-9 p.m., 22-23 3-9 p.m.; Hibiya Station on Hibiya Line or 4-minute walk from Oedo Line; Tel: 03-6406-6000.
MINATO MIRAI BON ODORI, less than an hour by train or care from YOKOSUKA NAVAL BASE, is the largest Bon Odori festivals in Kanagawa Prefecture, drawing 16,000 people annually. Enjoy traditional dance and various food and entertainment booths. This year’s event includes a curry competition between major hotels. The first 300 people to arrive get a free fan and glow bracelet. Experienced dancers will show newbies the ropes. Aug. 14-15, 5:30-8:30 p.m. Rinko Park, Nakaku, Yakohama City (3-minute walk from Minato Mirai Station on Minato Mirai Line). Tel: 045-221-2155; Website: www.pacifico.co.jp/calendar/events/afn6o1000000kh4r.html.
ENGAKUJI TEMPLE BON ODORI FESTIVAL in Kamakura City, Kanagawa Prefecture is about 30 minutes from IKEGO HOUSING. Aug. 15-17, 7-9:30 p.m.; Bon Odori at Engakuji Temple main gate area, one-minute walk from JR Kita Kamakura Station on Yokosuka Line; Tel; 0467-22-0478.
56TH BON ODORI FESTIVAL (Camp Zama)
Aug. 1, 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Bon Odori starts at 6:30 p.m., followed by fireworks at 8:30 p.m. Enjoy food, live music, DJ, games & other entertainment. Fun for all ages. Tel: 263-3939/046-407-3939; Website: www.armymwrjapan.com.
AMERICAN FESTIVAL & BON ODORI (Naval Air Facility Atsugi)
Aug. 8, 2 p.m. -8:30 p.m. at Taylor Field and Alliance Park (rain date Aug. 9). Tel: 0467-78-2664; Website: www.cnic.navy.mil/regions/cnrj/installations/naf_atsugi.html.