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article imageLove Japan: Silicon Valley's 79th Obon Festival Special

By Chikako Uchinami     Jul 5, 2014 in Travel
San Jose - If you Love Japan, be sure to stop by SJ Japantown's 79th annual Obon Festival, scheduled for July 12-13th from 11:30am until 10pm. The free event is located between Jackson and Taylor streets, four blocks east of the Japantown Ayer Light Rail Station.
Nothing ever stays the same.
Neighborhoods are made up of people, not buildings, and people constantly come and go. Even buildings crumble over time.
So, as the annual Japanese holiday of Obon approached this year, I went on a fact-finding mission to see what's up in San Jose's Japantown. The pictures in this article are all ones I took on my stroll.
SJ Japantown is one of only three surviving J-towns in the United States.
On my tour I found the little community busily preparing for the upcoming Bon festival.
Hitodama at JAMsj
Hitodama at JAMsj
Obon (お盆) is a Japanese observance honoring the spirits of ancestors. It has evolved into a family reunion holiday, during which ancestors are believed to revisit household altars. It has been celebrated in Japan for more than 500 years, and includes the traditional dance called Bon-Odori.
Every year at this time, J-town's sleepy population swells by thousands, as Japanese and their friends come from all over to fill the neighborhood streets and enjoy traditional food, fun, and entertainment including world-famous Taiko drummers from all over the world.
Issei Memorial
Issei Memorial
SJ Buddhist Church
SJ Buddhist Church
You can see one of the many Taiko drum groups that come every year featured in the YouTube video posted at the end of this article. I'll be at the festival this year, to cover the event live for Digital Journal, and will link a new post with updated info and pictures afterwards right here. Do you think you can find me in such a huge crowd of Japanese people? All you have to do is look for the Kimono Lady wearing a Digital Journal Press Pass.
I shouldn't be too hard to spot, juggling teriyaki sticks, shave ice, and a camera boom! Be sure to stop by and say hi if you want to be interviewed. The food will be absolutely the greatest, and we always have a boatload of fun. Hope to see you there!
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