Obon — certainly one of Denver’s few festivals for the Japanese-American group — has gone digital

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In some other yr, the parking zone between the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple and the Pacific Mercantile Firm on Lawrence Road would have been crammed with music and festival-goers this Saturday.
Folks wearing an array of brightly coloured, conventional Japanese garments would have danced, sang and celebrated whereas paper lanterns fluttered above in the summertime breeze. The taiko drums — loud, deep and so percussive that listeners can really feel the sound as a lot as they hear it — would have rumbled on by means of the evening.
On Aug. 8, Denver’s Japanese-American group had hoped to carry its Bon Odori Pageant (merely referred to as “Obon”). However because the coronavirus pandemic continues to rage throughout the nation, this yr’s competition — like many different occasions by means of the nation — must happen just about.
Courtney Ozaki, secretary of the TSDBT board and a driving drive in creating the digital competition, stated the custom of Obon is one value persevering with despite the fact that the group can’t bodily collect to have fun.
“I feel it’s necessary to — regardless of our kind of tumultuous setting that we’re dwelling in — do not forget that we’re all linked,” she stated. “And that this can be a method that we will discover that commonality in a significant method by means of dancing and pleasure and the remembrance of our family members.”
Obon originated as a competition within the Buddhist custom in Japan and got here to America with the primary Japanese immigrants within the early 1900s. TSDBT senior minister Diana Thompson stated it’s a celebration to honor one’s ancestors and incorporates among the faith’s core values of interdependence and impermanence. It’s a competition that’s celebrated throughout the nation and all over the world.
“It’s form of a strategy to bear in mind, however … in additional of a joyful method, which is why we do the Odori dancing,” she stated.
Thompson stated this yr has been significantly troublesome on members who’re marking hatsu-bon, the primary Bon Odori competition because the dying of a beloved one. Usually, the temple holds a service particularly for these households earlier than the competition, however this yr, that too must be digital.
Regardless of its spiritual roots, for a lot of, Obon has change into one of many few instances yearly for the Japanese-American group in Denver to return collectively.
“It’s a possibility to be with the opposite members of the sangha (congregation),” Chad Nitta, president of the TSDBT board of administrators, instructed The Denver Publish final month.
Although Obon was held in Denver earlier than World Struggle II, the incarceration of Japanese-Individuals grew to become a unifying occasion for the group in Colorado. In 1944, the primary yr these incarcerated have been allowed to go away camp, Denver was the second-largest resettlement metropolis within the nation after Chicago, in accordance with the Densho Encyclopedia. By 1950, the Japanese inhabitants right here was eight instances bigger than its pre-war numbers.
With such a various group of Japanese-Individuals coming to the town trying to construct new lives, cultural occasions like Obon grew to become key to the creation of a brand new group.
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“It’s one thing you could at all times bounce in and be part of no matter the place you come from,” Ozaki, who’s from Denver and grew up with the competition, stated. “It’s a method that folks can join with each other by means of a shared funding or worth within the vacation.”
The pandemic already has value the Japanese-American group one different main occasion: Sakura Matsuri. Also referred to as the Cherry Blossom Pageant, Nitta in contrast the Sakura Matsuri and Obon to being like Christmas and Easter for the Japanese-American group in Denver. He stated these are the 2 instances a yr that everybody reveals up — even the individuals who aren’t significantly spiritual.
So, on Aug. 8, as an alternative of gathering in particular person, the temple will attempt to duplicate that feeling by means of a pc display. A live-stream might be posted on the TSDBT YouTube channel that may present numerous group members dancing or taking part in the taiko drums so anybody who’s can take part on digital Obon, one thing Ozaki thinks is required now greater than ever.
“Our surroundings is inflicting numerous stressors on our lives,” she stated. “We really feel disconnected and we really feel form of helpless. (Obon) is one thing that we will depend on, that may assist us really feel that we all know what we’re linked by means of.”
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