During the summer, Salt Lakers have numerous opportunities to take in cultural festivals representing dozens of different ethnic backgrounds. Some are higher profile than others and tend to draw bigger crowds. So, when was the last time you experienced the Obon Festival?
The Salt Lake Buddhist Temple hosts this annual celebration of the Utah Japanese-American community, with many of the same trappings you’d expect from a cultural festival: authentic food for sale, craft booths and plenty of entertainment. That includes the sound and spectacle of Taiko drumming.
The nature of the showpiece performance, however, arises from the nature of the festival. Obon is
the traditional Japanese Buddhist commemoration and honoring of
deceased family members. Among the elements of this commemoration is bon odori, or dancing to celebrate the lives and accomplishments of those who have gone before. The traditionally costumed bon odori dancers take to the streets at 8 p.m.—and visitors are invited to participate.