Outing – Bon Odori 2006 + Photos!
Had a fantastic night today. Just got back from the Matsushita Sports Centre in Shah Alam, Selangor where the Bon Odori 2006 was being held.
It was amazing! The atmosphere was really fantastic, it was electrifying – the crowd were enthusiastic participants, joining in the song and dance. It was just wonderfully fun. There were so many people, I think there had to be about 20,000 people who attended, people from all walks of life from different cultural backgrounds. It’s another great demonstration of the spirit of camaderie among us human beings, though we may look different from the outside, we’re all essentially the same on the inside. It was great fun to see a couple of Malay women dressed in kimono while wearing the tudung. It was certainly a unique fusion of two cultures!
Kudos must go to the organisers and all those who participated in the planning, organising and performance must be praised for this well-organised event.
What is Bon Odori, I hear you ask? It’s held during the Bon Festival which is actually a Japanese Buddhist festival similar to the Chinese’s Qing Ming festival – which is to honour the departed spirits of one’s ancestors. Like the Chinese counterparts, the Bon festival has also evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people from the big cities return to their home towns and visit and clean their ancestors’ graves.
The Bon Odori, however, is an event held during the Obon. It is essentially celebrated as a reminder of the gratefulness one should feel toward one’s ancestors. However, the traditional religious meaning of the festival has changed with the passage of time and in today’s modern times, Bon Odori is now a dance festival associated with the arrival of summer.
Tonight, the Japanese expatriates came in droves to celebrate this festival and the Malaysian public was welcome to join in and partcipate and celebrate together for wonderful time of song and dance. For many of us who has grown up exposed to Japanese culture and elements in the form of anime, manga and J-Pop & J-Rock, it was a chance of a lifetime to experience a Japanese festival right here in our own country. I was moved beyong words and I can guarantee that I will certainly be back next year!
Don’t get me wrong though, my Malaysian Chinese identity is firmly intact and I am not suffering from confusion of my cultural identity. I just love the Japanese way of life and their customs, language and culture. It’s really beautiful and very, very different from that of the Chinese. It’s also a way for me to show my respect for the Japanese people, to show that the past is effectively the past and that we should all move on with the times.
The Japanese people of today should not be put at fault for the atrocities of the past – which is why I think the Chinese and Korean governments are overreacting to the Japanese PM’s frequent visits to the Yasukini Shrine. What’s the big deal of paying respects to the dead, even if they’re the war criminals? No matter how bad people who has died are, they still deserve to be prayed for that their souls may be able to rest in peace despite everything.
But I disgress. I don’t want to be drawn into something which I am still learning to understand. The fact of the matter is this – we should not let our differences and past hurts get in our way of forging mutual and fruitful relationships with one another…which is why I am truly happy that we get to celebrate Bon Odori here in Malaysia as well. I wonder why I never knew about this until this year? Nevermind, now that i know, I will certainly make Bon Odori a fixture in the years to come!
Thanks aplenty to my imouto-chan, Naoko, for letting me know about this event and letting me tag along with her friends from the Comic Fiesta Forum. While I did stick out like a sore thumb and clueless about all the CF-talk, I did enjoy myself tonight with your merry bunch of otak tak centre friends! 😀
Below are a selection of photos which I had taken tonight at the Bon Odori Festival. Click on each of the thumbnails below to access the larger version of the photo which I had uploaded at Dropshots. Let me know what you think of my photography skills, ya! 😀 The best way to learn and improve for me is through the criticisms of others, so I’m not really averse to harsh criticisms – so long they aren’t personal attacks or unfair.
Alternatively, I have also made a slide show version of these photos over at my The Eternal Wanderer’s Cool Videos & Podcasts via Slide.com. For silly/funny/lame captions, go there! 😀 It’ll take a minute or two to load, so be warned if you’re on dial-up!
Hope you guys and gals had as much fun as I did at Bon Odori 2006! See you all again next year’s Bon Odori 2007!!