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Friday, August 13, 2010

This Weekend: Check Out Japanese Summer Festivals Marking Obon

Posted By on Fri, Aug 13, 2010 at 10:23 AM

click to enlarge The weekend's Nihonmachi Street Fair in J-Town will offer an array of eats. - LUIS CHONG
  • Luis Chong
  • The weekend's Nihonmachi Street Fair in J-Town will offer an array of eats.
It's the weekend of the Bay Area's Japanese summer fests, known in Japan as Obon (or Bon) festivals. Originating from the Buddhist custom of honoring departed ancestors, they've evolved into a very important tradition of family reunions. Many Buddhist churches and schools organize small carnivals with games and food. Here in the Bay Area, groups organize community events to bring together neighborhood residents and visitors.

The biggest such event is the Diablo Japanese Summer Festival in Concord, organized by the Diablo Japanese American Club. It's one of the very few that still features the traditional Obon odori (folk dance), and offers the closest experience to a typical Obon festival without flying to Japan: great food, martial arts demos, Japanese dancers, and visitors in colorful yukata kimonos. Bring sun protection, since Sunday promises to be a scorcher.

And let's not forget about the multicultural 37th Annual Nihonmachi Street Fair in S.F.'s Japantown. It features many local bands, halau hula (hula schools), the famous San Francisco Taiko Dojo, and much more. Get there early for any chance of finding parking.

Diablo Japanese Summer Festival in Concord

When: Sat., Aug. 14, 1 p.m.-8:30 p.m. and Sun., Aug. 15, noon-9 p.m.

Where: Diablo JA Club, 3165 Treat (at Tamori Lane), Concord

Cost: Free

37th Annual Nihonmachi Street Fair

When: Sat.-Sun., Aug. 14-15, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Where: Japantown, accessible from Geary or Post between Webster and Laguna

Cost: Free

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Luis Chong

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