Bon Odori singer (2004 August at Imazu primary school in Osaka)
Bon Odori Dancers (2004 August at Imazu primary school in Osaka)
Bon Odori (盆踊り) is an event held during the Buddhist festival period called Obon in Japan. It is celebrated as a reminder of the gratefulness one should feel toward their ancestors. Originally a Nenbutsu folk dance to express the effusive welcome toward the spirits of the dead, the dance tends to vary by region.
Bon Odori originates from the story of a Buddhist disciple who envisioned his deceased mother in the Realm of Hungry Ghosts where she was indulging in her own selfishness. Greatly disturbed, he went to Buddha and asked how he could release his mother from this realm. Buddha advised his disciple to perform some charitable act in memory of his mother. The disciple did this and, thus, saw his mother's release for the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. He also began to see the true nature of her past unselfishness and the many sacrifices that she had made for him. The disciple, happy because of his mother's release and grateful for his mother's kindness, danced with joy. From this dance of joy comes Bon Odori or "Bon Dance", a time in which our ancestors and their sacrifices are remembered and appreciated.
The tradition is said to have started in the later years of the Muromachi period as a public entertainment. In the course of time, the original religious meaning has faded, and has evoked a summery image.
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