Saturday, July 26, 2014


7/26/14 Pilot Iroshizuku Asa-gao, Fuyu-syogun, Take-Sumi and Tsuyu-kusa inks,
Zig markers, Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencils, Canson XL
140 lb. paper
Obon is an annual summer Buddhist festival to honor ancestors and loved ones who have died. It’s been a long, long time since I was a practicing Buddhist (if attending Sunday school in my elementary years could be called “practicing”), but I still go to the Obon festival regularly, mainly for the food and dancing.

Back in the day, my girlfriends and I would go to nightly practice sessions the week before Obon to learn the choreographed folk dances (also known as gossiping and giggling while we pretended not to notice the boys, who were pretending not to notice us). On the big day, my mom would dress me up in a traditional kimono, and I’d join people of all ages, dancing in the street until it got dark. Casual attire such as shorts and T-shirts was strictly forbidden. After all, it is a religious event at its core.

Strict traditions have since given way to a more inclusive attitude, and community residents of all religions join in the fun. T-shirts, baseball caps and jeans dance right alongside brightly colored kimonos. You can still get traditional cold soba noodles and shaved ice, but you can also get a pulled pork sandwich and a strawberry sundae.

Since we missed the Obon celebration last weekend at the Seattle temple where I used to dance, we made the trek south to Auburn this afternoon to join the festivities at the White River Buddhist Temple instead. After getting my fill of rice balls, noodles and shaved ice, I joined in the dancing with a sketchbook instead of my feet.

1 comment:

  1. I love that traditions like this are continued. It must be a nice sight to see with all the colorful kimonos and hear the music. I love how you sketched some of the people in traditional outfits and some in regular clothes...and the lanterns!


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