Bon Odori Festival, 2016 – Thank You

Planning for the 2016 Steveston Buddhist Temple Obon Festival started later than usual but many members and non members came forward to volunteer and we were quickly back on track.
The Bon Odori dance practices led by Yoko Matsuno, Sensei, were well attended as usual by 30 to 40 young and older dancers, mostly female but occasionally with a male or two. These are the dancers we follow as we dance around the Yagura.
A successful festival depends on a lot of preparation and we had a lot of support. Days before, volunteers were busy shopping, chopping and cooking.
D-day, Saturday, July 16th, started as a cool and overcast day. The set up crew was out in full force early in the morning and with the help from members of the Judo Club and Takarajima parents the yagura, lanterns, booths and chairs were set up quickly and smoothly. The area behind the temple now took on a festive air and was ready for the occasion. At 4:00 pm when the gates opened the festival mood was upped a few notches with music, dancing, food and crowds of festival goers.
The food vendors were all busy with a couple of them selling out before the end of the day. A wide range of food items were available from takoyaki to pulled pork to hot dogs to sushi to Belgian waffles as well as popcorn and shaved ice; something for everyone.
As the skies cleared and the day warmed up more and more people arrived. Many families with young children came and the kids were thrilled to play the numerous games and win prizes. In total, an estimated 800 people attended the festival.
There were breaks in the festivities to hear a few speeches from our special guests: Consul General Okai and her husband, Mayor Malcolm Brodie, John Yap, Rev. and Mrs. Koshin Ogui and Bishop Tatsuya Aoki.
At half time, we switched briefly from Bon Odori dancing to Hawaiian hula dancing and for a couple of numbers from the ever popularTaiko group.
Our Sensei, Grant Ikuta, did an excellent job as the emcee as he announced the dance numbers, introduced speakers, and called door prize winning numbers as well as being the gracious host to our visitors. The winner of the first prize of an Ipad Mini was Ron
Araki. Congratulations to all the prize winners.
As the Festival came to a close, volunteers again came forward to take down the lanterns, yagura, booths and chairs. In short order the magical moments of the festival vanished into a mist. Photos of the events are mostly in the mist as our official photographer could not attend. A couple of photos have been forwarded to the committee and are included in the newsletter. We would ask anyone else who took photos to please send a few to the office for our records, and to remind us of the joy at the festival. Or let our co-chairs know that photos do exist and are available.
All of these memories could not have happened without the countless number of volunteers. They made the festival a success and a joy. Thank you for helping us to serve and connect to the community.
We look forward to seeing all of you at the temple on other occasions and most certainly at the next Obon Festival.
Thank you. Domo Arigato.
Itoko Akune & Elmer Morishita
Co-chairs, Obon 2016 Committee.