Bon Odori festivals are well known as an entertaining and interesting summer events across Japan, and Kobe’s seaside fest is no exception. Bon Odori, or simply Bon dances, are some of the most exciting open-air parties that Japan offers, and they’re fun for all ages!
Since the Obon holiday is celebrated traditionally by families returning back to ancestral locations in order to appreciate and honor the spirits of their ancestors, each region of the country celebrates a little differently. In celebration of ancestors lost to history, the holiday is generally signified by a specific type of dance and song meant to welcome the spirits of each region.
Families, friends, and tourists alike come to these celebrations for summer evenings filled with entertaining shows and lively rituals. Often, the dances involve participation from all ages and nationalities, and joining in is always encouraged. These events are usually marked by a circle of dancers in synchronized motion surrounding a special structure called a ‘yagura’ where people sing or perform from.
Though all Bon Odori festivals are entertaining to watch and partake in, there is something especially magical about experiencing the 500 year-old tradition along the coast of Kobe.
Kobe provides the perfect backdrop for such a lively celebration on the seaside at Meriken Park. The lanterns and fireworks reflecting off of the water are truly a sight to behold, and the participation from many foreigners makes this specific Bon festival a unique experience to check out!
Enjoy the view of the gorgeous port city’s skyline beyond as you experience a taste of traditional Bon Odori dancing this summer!
Where: Meriken Park, a 10 minute walk from Motomachi Station on the JR or Hanshin Line, 2 Hatobacho, Chuo Ward, Kobe, Hyogo Prefecture 650-0042
When: Saturday, August 18