Sunday, 20 July 2008
Bon Odori 2008
It's been years since i went to Bon Odori, it's one of my favorite japanese festivals, even though it is a festival to actually honor the dead. Kinda like our Ching Ming only less scary. Why, O bon or Bon Odori as it is called is more festive and celebrates the families coming together. It seems less somber and plus the fact that besides the usual grave cleaning the whole place seems bustling with people making it less scary and more like a carnival.
This year round, armed with my new toy, i decided Obon is a good time to practice shooting. Mind you... food pictures were ONLY 1. Though we ate a lot, it is also too crowded to get good food photos.
Every year, Obon is held in 3 places in Malaysia, namely Penang, Ipoh and Selangor. Yes, in the Panasonic stadium in Shah Alam. Near where else the panasonic stadium. We reached there about 5ish and the crowd was already spewing into the stadium. The Obon in KL is mainly set up to encourage more understanding of the japanese culture rather than celebrate the festival of the dead. From the looks of the crowd, about 60% of malaysians and we want to be like Japanese people - ha! From those dressed in yukatas ( summer kimono ) to very poor cosplay like costumes.. ( i thought i saw Gackt there ), it is a feast for a raving photographer like me that day.
Now food is aplenty in Bon Odori, with staples from Isetan, Jaya Jusco and Sushi King ( heh ??? ) setting up stalls there. In fact, there is a wide range of japanese ice cream in a cup in which you can buy much cheaper than in the shops. But note that the queue is endlessly long. Quality of food is not so great but then hey, cheap is good at times.... I only manage a shot of this squid my brother bought ( HEY I DUN EAT SQUID ) but... makes a good picture with it's curly wurly legs
While everyone gorges, i mean feeds themselves, the dancing or the odori starts at 7 sharp. We have young lads, lining up on the raised platform to beat the taiko drums. Must salute the little guy on the far left with his left hand in a sling yet he can still play the drums like a 2 hand abled person! All these young lads come from the local japanese school in KL and were recruited to perform for today.
What's so good about Obon is, it's an absolutely good place to take photos of really cute kids in yukata. Traditionally worn in summer, its much lighter weight, and made of cotton with colorful obis wrapped around the waist. The men's version is normally in blue and sometimes for young boys it is actually a shorts version as well.
They are happily swinging little balloons filled with water. If you are not careful, you might get zonked on the head by one of these.
Mostly what i like about the Obon is the kids. CHO KAWAII! I must admit japanese kids are pretty cute with their dark tan ( note they start swimming way early ) and their traditional costumes. Check out some of the kids here.