It’s a festival that goes back 65 years and a tradition that goes back centuries. It’s Bon Odori, sometimes called Obon, a Japanese festival honoring ancestors, and the Tacoma Buddhist Temple is celebrating this Saturday evening in downtown Tacoma, all for free.
From 5-9 p.m. at the temple, located just up the hill from the University of Washington Tacoma campus, the local Japanese and Buddhist community will don traditional kimonos, yukatas and happi coats to perform Japanese folk dances in the street, joined by hundreds of festivalgoers. There also will be taiko drum performances by the temple’s Fuji Taiko group and the Seattle Buddhist Temple’s Matsuri Taiko. Visitors don’t need traditional dress to participate.
Food is another big part of Bon Odori, which traditionally lasts for three days in Japan and is a time for families to return to ancestral homes and clean graves. On the menu at the temple this Saturday are favorites like teriyaki chicken bowl, chili rice bowl, cold somen noodles, Spam musubi rice cakes, daifuku mochi pastry, unagi (grilled eel with teriyaki sauce and pickled cabbage), and American standbys like pie, hot dogs and shave ice. There’ll be a beer-and-sake garden for those 21 and older.
The evening concludes with a candlelight memorial. Bon Odori runs from 5-9 p.m. Saturday at the Tacoma Buddhist Temple, 1717 S. Fawcett St., Tacoma. Call 253-627-1417 or go to email@example.com 253-597-8568 blog.thenewstribune.com/arts