Cebu celebrates the Bon Odori Japanese Summer Festival
AS THE sun set and the paper lanterns were lit, smiles and warm greetings filled the open air over a patch of green in Cebu, heralding a weekend of festivities celebrating friendship between two countries.
These colorful scenes took place during the first Bon Odori Japanese Summer Festival 2014 at the Aboitiz Field in Mandaue City last Aug. 8 and 9. Spearheaded by the Japanese Exchange Committee and Philippines, the event highlighted the bond between Filipinos and Japanese.
Similar to the country’s All Saints’ Day celebration, the Bon Odori Festival is among the important customs in Japan, as it commemorates Japanese ancestors, who, through their good deeds, live on to this day.
In the festival in Cebu, guests and hosts welcomed with open arms the cultural exchange of both cultures, an extended the celebration of Philippines-Japan Friendship Month last July.
The festivities highlighted the Bon Odori dance, in which participants gathered around the yagura, a wooden platform, and started dancing while chanting “wasshoi,” which means to stay in harmony. Cosplay and yukata contests made the evening more colorful, as the cosplayers and participants garbed in summer casual kimonos showcased the vibrancy of Japanese culture.
Also, Cebuanos couldn’t get enough of the Japanese games on offer. One is Yo-Yo, a game that involves lifting water-filled balloons without breaking the string made of rolled paper with a hook at the tip. Those who successfully hook the balloon got candy.
Another game called Scooping Goldfish involved, well, scooping goldfish from a pool using a paper scooper called “poi” then putting the fish into a bowl with the poi. The game requires care and speed as the poi can tear easily. If the poi tears, it’s game over.
And what’s a festival without food? Those who craved for Japanese treats gathered at the food stalls. Cebu fare, of course, was represented by the famous tuslob-buwa from Azul.
The festival ended with a fireworks display, leaving guests and hosts alike with a sense of kinship that will be remembered for a long time. (Charlyn Pepito and Sunshine Gelbolingo, USJ-R Mass Comm Interns)