Obon approaches

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Obon holidays are upon us and the city is emptying out. Everyone's going back to their hometowns, vacationing overseas, or at least not going to work. Businesses and restaurants are closed. Yesterday's trains were virtually empty; I got a seat on 3 out of 4 I rode.

I should try to find a festival with some bon odori. I love those Japanese folk dances. Circling a small, square stage decorated with paper lanterns & red and white striped fabric, dancers in yukata shuffle along in a big circle, waving their arms, twirling fans, clapping and spinning. The music is a steady beat of taiko drums with shamisen and flute picking out a melody. Sometimes there is a dish-shaped bell ringing a counterpoint.

I remember my first bon odori 6 years ago. I stumbled upon it accidentally and stood there watching and grinning until an old man handed me a fan and dragged me into the circle. I was quite a spectacle but not because of my dancing skill--I was the only foreigner there.

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