U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lauren Brune
U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Lauren Brune

Folk songs and friendships; dancing Bon Odori

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni

Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni residents joined Japanese locals on the dance floor during a Bon Odori Festival at Kinjuen nursing home in Iwakuni, Aug. 14, 2019.

Station residents were invited to participate in the festival, as part of a Marine Corps Community Services Cultural Adaptation Program trip.

“This event is a unique experience for station residents,” said Mikie Watanabe, cultural adaptation specialist. “It is very rare for Americans to be able to participate in a Japanese summer event where they get to wear a Yukata, a summer Kimono, and participate in a traditional Bon Odori Festival.”

Residents helped locals decorate the nursing home with lanterns, banners and games for the children who attended the event. This opened the door for both parties to learn and practice each other’s native language and interact with each other.

Nursing home residents gathered into the common area to eat and watch as everyone danced. Smiles filled their faces when familiar visitors from the station showed up for their second or third time to this particular event.

Bon Odori, also known as Bon dance, is a style of dancing to folk songs that differ from region to region but with the common theme of honoring and appreciating ancestors and their sacrifices.

After dancing, everyone who attended the festival participated in games to win prizes, and eat traditional summer festival foods like yakisoba and shaved ice.

Station residents who attended this event for the first time said their favorite part was being able the dance and interact with the locals.

“My favorite part was dressing up in Yukatas and having fun with my wife,” said Michael Cox, a Lockheed Martin employee. “Being able to experience the cultural exchange and practicing Japanese with the native speakers would not have been possible without the Cultural Adaptation Program."

Photo Caption:
Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni and local Japanese residents perform Bon Odori dancing at the Kinjuen nursing home in Iwakuni City, Japan, Aug. 14, 2019. Station residents were invited to participate in a Bon Odori festival through the Marine Corps Community Services Cultural Adaptation Program. Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom, meant to honor the spirits of their ancestors. Highlights from the festival were the Bon Odori dance, Yukatas and eating traditional Japanese summer foods.

Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Okinawa
Stripes Korea
Stripes Guam

Recommended Content