Japanese Obon Festival

Japanese Obon Festival to Feature Dancing and Drumming, July 31, 2010 Alton Baker Park, Eugene, Oregon

The south end of Alton Baker Park turns into a joyous evening festival featuring Japanese dancing, taiko drumming, crafts, food and more on Saturday, July 31th. The Japanese American Association of Lane County and the City of Eugene present the 21th annual Obon and Taiko drumming festival from 5:00 to 9:00 pm in Alton Baker Park, Eugene.

Under the swaying, colorful Japanese lanterns, visitors can participate in Japanese circle dances and feast on foods such as yakisoba noodles. There will be entertainment by the Eugene Taiko, Hula Dancing and Waka Daiko (children?s drumming group).

The annual Obon (pronounced o-bone) Festival is also known as the Festival of Lanterns, and honor the ancestors. It is the time of year for bringing families and friends together for an evening of dancing and celebration.

This deeply rooted Japanese celebration begins at 5 pm with taiko drumming and Japanese dancing, where the audience is invited to participate in learning many of the dances. This celebration continues until 9 pm.

The event is free and visitors are encouraged to bring a blanket or lawn chair.

According to event spokesperson, Seiko Kikuta, both traditional and contemporary Obon dances will be performed. More than a dozen dances will be featured, half of which invite the audience to participate.

Dances are very easy to learn, even for children. The dances are full of symbolism and props, such as kachi kachi (castenets) or uchiwa (fan) to suggest a story or scene in nature.

Eugene Taiko, a popular local drumming group, and the Waka Daiko Drummers, a children?s drumming group will perform throughout the evening. The Waka Daiko Drummers will open the event, and Eugene Taiko concludes the event. Both groups will perform at intermission.

The Eugene Taiko is listed among the cultural resources of Oregon, according to the Oregon Historical Society. The sound of Japanese drums resonates with heavy and loud beats, created by the combination of several patterns. It can be a moving experience.

The Obon festival also plans to feature crafts and gift items, available for purchase, such as Japanese ribbon birds, ornaments, kimono, yukata and event t-shirts.

Visitors to the event may bring a picnic supper or purchase Asian foods.

Alton Baker park is located along the north bank of the Willamette River, just west of the University of Oregon?s Autzen Stadium. To reach the part from I-5 heading north or south, take the 194B exit and follow the Autzen Stadium signs