Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Obon in Pahoa
I've been kinda getting sucked into life drawing and beach sketching world and haven't really had much to report lately. This weekend Bon dancing came to Pahoa. Actually, Saturday was very busy but I'll just talk about the Bon dance. It's a Buddhist festival to honor the beloved departed ancestors. Pahoa was once a sugar cane town with a lot of Japanese workers. There's even a Japanese cemetary that I didn't know about located in the back areas. I never saw so many Japanese come out to one location in Pahoa (because now it's been taken over by the come lately hippie types that cruise the health food store and a few other shops. The town really has potential and it keeps trying to make it but it's pretty scruffy and has a ways to go before it's another Paia or even a Hawi. And bringing in a Long's Drugstore and some national chain fast food places on the other end of Pahoa isn't exactly amping up the charm meter.
Back to the Bon dance, held in the Buddhist (temple--it's hard to call it that because the building is very sterile and lackluster) parking lot. Here are some videos from that event. I especially loved this boy who really knew the moves. I tried to join in a little, along with my friends Y and C but we don't know the dances, at least my attempts were too feeble and I get embarrassed very easily, so I opted for being the camera person.
In the end we watched from outside the chain link fence (more minus charm points - ha) as we spotted a couple of friends dance by. Our friends acknowledged that they'd been practicing for weeks. Well, of course.
My friend, Y from Japan, was telling me that it wasn't so popular any more for the young to mix with the old in the real Japan. Similar to language (I studied linguistics a long time ago), how people who move to another area keep their old phrasing and don't "change with the times" of the original culture. So too must a cultural phenomenon that's huge in Hawaii and other parts where in this case the Japanese transplanted themselves many generations ago the traditions haven't changed so much in the host country. A kind of historical "artifact" of what the people brought over (a hundred years ago). It must be true in other cultures. That would be a fascinating study.