Last Sunday, a number of us had the opportunity to go to the New York Buddhist Church‘s 59th Annual Obon Dance Festival in Bryant Park, NYC. Most of us had never been to an Obon before, so we weren’t sure exactly to expect, but it turned out to be a very enjoyable experience and I’m glad we made it out : D
Sunday turned out to be a nice day for a festival, with bright sunny skies, and Bryant Park providing nice shade for us. We got there alittle early (Brian and I took a trip over to B&H beforehand since we were in the city anyway) and waited while Hoh Daiko set up and warmed up beforehand.
Hoh Daiko kicked off the Obon with a great performance of two songs! The first was an intense Yatai-style song, and the second a more upbeat song played in slant style. Both were performed with great skill and energy
During most of the time between performances, there were traditional dances being done in the main area. Although there were times when the music would randomly cut out, alot of people picked up the dances pretty fast and joined along. We decided to sit out at a table to talk and rest, since we had done so much walking and standing throughout the day. I took that opportunity to snap a few pics of us and the dancers, of course.
We also took this chance to meet up with members of both Hoh Daiko and Soh Daiko. They were both very friendly and hopefully we’ll be able to see them in the future and strengthen the bond between our groups!
Soh Daiko performed in the last half of the Obon, performing a short theatrical intro involving Nemo, a version of Matsuri (slant style), as well as another piece with some drums on up stands and some on slant, all of which were performed with great energy and technique.
Afterwards we had alittle time to kill before heading home, so we stopped by Yoshinoya, just west of Times Sq., which had cheap and tasty beef bowls and other rice-bowl type things (I got a bowl with chicken IIRC).
I’m glad we got the chance to go – it was a good chance to see some experienced taiko groups perform, get to meet and network with them, and also experience some other facets of Japanese culture. I hope we get to go next year!