Sunday, August 17, 2008

Bon Dancing

Last night the annual bon dancing was moved inside due to rain and although that meant it was easier to find a spot to sit down when you had had enough of going around and around it did mean that the lighting was brighter than when we do it outside. This of course means that everyone can see how bad you are at the dancing! For those who haven't heard of bon dancing before, the local communities get together at the end of the bon period and dance around in a huge circle for at least an hour to the beat of the drum and the singing/chanting of an old man. This is another way in which they farewell the ancestors whose spirits have come to visit at this time. You basically go around and around and around and around doing the same steps to the same beat until they change the songs and the beat and you then start doing those same steps to the same beat for another half hour or so.
There are less and less people who participate each year in our community and those who do come along often sit the dancing out until they see the little men come out with their big bags of dish washing sponges which have a number written on them (well that is what we have in our area!). All those who are dancing get one and at the end of the night they have a kind of lottery where you can win exciting prizes like gladwrap and dish washing powder. This year we had 8 sponges and all of them won prizes - 6 boxes of gladwrap and 2 boxes of washing powder!
As well as the fact that there are less and less people participating each year, there are also less and less people who are wearing the traditional yukata (summer kimono) to the event. As a point to any single men out there - if someone is wearing a kimono you don't need to search their fingers to see if they are married or not - just look at the length of the sleeves. If there is a big bit hanging down they are not married.... Just another piece of random, useless information for you!

For anyone interested in seeing what the dancing/drumming/droning is like here is a short video.

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