By Shelby Smithey…
Originally a traditional Japanese celebration to honor ancestors and family unity, Obon, or Bon for short, is now celebrated widely in other places around the world to showcase Japanese culture, including right here in Pensacola.
BonFest Pensacola will take place this Saturday Aug. 25 at the Bayview Community Center and will feature Japanese food, vendors, costumes, dancing and Taiko drumming.
Hatsue Miki, BonFest organizer and local artist, said that Bon Festival is a 400-year old tradition, but that BonFest Pensacola started six years ago to display Japanese culture in the community.
“We will have ice shaving, flowers, plants, and Japanese food that is popular in the summertime,’ Miki said. “Bon Festival is traditionally celebrated in the summer.”
“Sake Café is one of our vendors and they will have a table there with sushi and Japanese soda,” Miki said. “Last year they were sold out.”
Other food available will be okonomiyaki, a Japanese pizza, and Japanese noodles.
The event will also feature traditional Japanese drumming, Taiko Dojo.
“Dojo means workshop,” Miki said. We will have a professional Taiko drumming troupe from Orlando who will give a workshop.
Miki said that they will also teach Bon Odori, a traditional Japanese folk dance typically performed during a Bon Festival, and will have a dance contest.
“We are not looking for the best dancers, we are looking for the most unique dancers,“ Miki said. “We used to give out kimonos as prizes, but this year we are giving a cash reward.”
The festival will also have crafts for kids including origami, Japanese calligraphy and games.
“The goldfish game is always popular with the kids,” Miki said. “We have a small net made with a special kind of paper, and the kid dip their nets to pick up the toy goldfish and whoever gets the most fish wins a prize.”
The event will be from noon to 4 p.m. and is free. Donations are welcomed for vendors.