Japanese people visit their hometowns and pay respect to the graves of their ancestors during the Bon (also known as O-bon ) holidays in mid August. It is believed that the spirits of the ancestors return during these days.
Bon Odori (Bon Dance) is one of the main events during these holidays. The dance is intended to express peoples gratitude towards the spirits of their ancestors and welcome them. These photos are from the Bon Odori event in Edogawadai, the small town where I live.
In Bon Odori, people dance on and around a multi-level wooden stage called "Yagura".
Taiko, the Japanese drums, are played on the uppermost level. The other levels are for dancers.
The songs, music and the style of dancing varies according to the region.
After the first few songs, everybody is invited to join. Simpler songs are played for children.
There were some modern inclusions too. Some Spanish songs and dances, and "Bahamamama" by BoneyM. :o)
The songs are repeated a number of times, and the dances may not appear all that nice once everybody join. However, the drummers are usually very talented. See the photo below, the arms are quite blurred due to fast motion.
With the traditional music, dances that everybody can join, people dressed in traditional dresses, and the food and toy stalls, Bon Odori has a really festive atmosphere.