Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Zojoji Bonodori

Hi Hi sisters ...... I have been buzzing like a busy bee 'again', guess doctors can only advise so much. Even though some expatriates prefer to return to their home countries to escape from the scorching heat, but summer in Tokyo is where all the actions are! There are matsuri (summer festivals), hanabi (fireworks), awaodori and bonodori (folk dance).

I still remember last year we passed by a neighborhood Bonodori. As we watched families dressed in beautiful yukata and happily danced to Japanese folk songs and Taiko drums, how I wish I could imitate those beautiful dance movements! But where to begin for a foreigner who knew nothing about this Japanese tradition? So I just kept this little wish quietly at the bottom of my heart. Life is really full of hopes and miracles, through a very kind Japanese sister E, I happened to watch a dance performance by my present Nihon Buyo sensei (Japanese dance teacher). As they say, the rest is history ......

This past weekend, I finally made my ‘debut’ in a Bonodori – I mean actually wearing a yukata and do the Bon dance! Yes, it’s not a big deal to others as hundreds of people are dancing too, but it’s a dream come true for me. Well, my sensei has been patiently teaching sister E & myself the 6 popular dances ahead of time. On the day of the Bonodori, sensei’s own kimono lady even came to her house to dress us and do our hair, so kind :) My long hair is tied so tight into a bun, hehe like my yukata?

This Bonodori was held in Zojoji (増上寺), at the foot of Tokyo Tower. Zojoji was the Tokugawa Shogunate family's temple during the Edo period (1590).
The front gate
The side halls
The quiet bamboo corridor - very zen
The Yagura (central dance platform) was set up in the main temple ground
This has got to be the classiest matsuri food stalls ever - hotel chefs in white uniforms with silver serving trays! Kids fishing game
Usually the summer heat is so unbearable that you can’t even stay out for 5 minutes, miraculously the weather really co-operated that day. The rainy forecast never materialized, it was cool and breezy like a spring night. My sensei told me it has always been the case, it's because one of our dance is dedicated to Ojijo-sama (the God of Land). The dance started right before dusk, went well into the night. The dance sensei would go up the Yagura and led the dance, and the rest of us danced around the Yagura in circles.

Some kindergarten classes were invited and these cute little kids were all dancing around us :)

As the night went on, more and more people arrived and joined in.

I took a glance at hubby and he was tirelessly following me in circles,
trying to capture this precious moment for me.
As I admired the stunningly beautiful night view of Zojoji and Tokyo Tower, I couldn’t help but be very grateful for what I was experiencing. The little secret wish that I dare not think too much about had now become a reality. I turned around and thanked the caring sister E, my heart was filled with joy but my eyes were swelled with tears.

Thanks for reading :)


flowerbossa said...


Arigato for the beautiful photos!
The contrast of the new & old - Zojoji and Tokyo Tower is indeed stunning~

The kindergarten children are really cute too^^
My niece also used to enjoy her bonodori events when she was in kindergarten.

Love your yukata!
You will have to dance for us some time♪


Anonymous said...

Hi, I am Judy from the States. I often read your blogs and enjoy reading them very much. I was in Japan last November touring around Tokyo for a week. I had a lovely dinner at BYJ's Tokyo restaurant.
I just wanted to thank you for all the interesting things and news you have been sharing with us. I also have a quick question, what is yukata? Is it some kind of Kimono? Thank you, Judy

jaime said...

Dear flowerbossa,

Nice to hear from you. Yes, the kids are really cute. Everybody stopped and watched them, their parents were so busy taking pictures. Did you enjoy Bonodori with your niece?

Thanks for your kind words. Nihon Buyo is very enjoyable but different/difficult. Hehe, an ajumma like me have twisted a few muscles and cracked a few joints along the way :)

Looking forward to seeing you in the September events. Please take care!

love .... Jaime

jaime said...

Hi Judy,

Welcome to my little home. You were Tokyo in November, did you enjoy the fall color? Sorry I should have explained. Yes, yukata is a cotton kimono. It is worn

1. at home
2. in the ryokan (Japanese inn)
3. in the summer during the festivals

Besides the traditional prints, the yukata today can be very colorful with many patterns. Young Japanese people like to adorn their yukata now with lace, pearls, ribbons, stones, matching bags and geta (wooden clogs), complete with a pretty hairdo! Yukata is a big street fashion in the summer, you can see them everywhere.

Then there is also the regular summer kimono, which is usually lighter and sheerer, made from high quality materials like silk. They are worn for more formal occasions like weddings or visiting someone's house.

Thanks for writing to me, have a nice day!
regards ...... Jaime

karen said...

Morning Jaime,

I love your pic. the Tokyo Tower was so stunning with it’s light all on.

My place in Penang also have bonodori but the feel is not the same as we don’t have Zojoji n Tokyo tower hahaaa..

We too got food stall along the street selling Japanese food but also local food, that’s the different between bondori in japan n my hometown…I wish to go to Japan too during bondori, cos last 2 time I went to Japan is during autumn, the maple leave n gingko tree was so beautifully turning their colour to red n yellow. I love your yukata n E’s yukata, the colour is so nice matching. Yours is black is it ??


jaime said...

Dear Karen,

Do you dance to Malaysian music or Japanese music in the Penang Bonodori? Do you enjoy it? I heard there is also Bonodori in Taiwan too.

Hehe, sadly the shorter and fatter one in the lilac yukata is me :(
Nice to hear from you and please take care!

love ...... jaime

karen said...

hi hi jaime,

Sorry jaime, i can't dance lol, in Malaysia the bondori they also playing japanese music.. i just go n feel the spirit of bondori..but the heat is untolerable..but yes the food is yummy..hahaa....

Really ?? there is a bondori in taiwan also ?? which part of taiwan ?? in Taipei ??

Nope Jaime, u are not fat la, the lilac yukata is very nice, i can see your skin is very fair too..hahaaa..

You too....take care ya..especially in the hot summer, drink more water lol..


Anonymous said...


You are pretty in the light color yukata!

I love bonodori and have been joining bonodori held at my noeigbouring shrine since I was a kid.

I'll leave for Morioka soon( Yes, Yon-sama triggered me to visit there for the first time and , you know , I've never been to the area which is northern Kamakura except for Hokkaikdo before.) From Morioka I'll visit onsen in the mountain area. I hope I'll try to be brave and bathe in the mixed one.

On my way home I decided to stay in Tokyo for a few days. This will also be my first visit except for 1 juinor high school days trip and a few business trips.

I have plans related to YJ-ssi in
Tokyo,but have more plans related to Japanese dance. One of them is to join bonodori. I'll be there from August 15 to 17 or 18,so had checked up where there will be bonodori during the time.

You know, thanks to YJ-ssi I began to enjoy traveling again. Yes, there was time I didn't feel like it.

Thanks for your wonderful postings always ,
love Yoko.

yudi said...

Dear Jaime,

You are so pretty in the picture, and so young! You are definitely not an ajumma which you always claimed to be (hehe, I know it is from one of your numerous senses of humour). I also spotted you in the third last picture. I love your lilac yukata and hairdo, so neat and goes perfectly with the hot summer night. Just a little curious even though yukata is made of cotton, is it still too hot to wear in summer?

I just read about Zojoji and Tokyo Tower in a Japan travel book the other day, and I am so happily surprised to see them in your blog, it gives me a totally different feeling, they are now getting more closer to me and will be vividly remembered by me with the jolly bonodori matsuri and beautiful Jaime in yukata from now on. Thank you so much.

love… yudi

Yee said...

Wow Lady,

I am speechless ... You had a time of your life, dear. I envy you.
Thanks for sharing all these beautiful Japanese traditional festivals, which you are enjoying.


jaime said...

Hi again Karen,

Yes, I heard there is Bonodori held in Taipei. Taiwan was under Japanese rule for 50 years during the world wars, so I guess there is a certain influence.

You know what dear? I actually don't know which is worse, 'skin burning' summer heat or the 'ear numbing' winter chill? Hahaha unfortunately, I have to face both in my life :)

love .... jaime

jaime said...

Hi Yoko,

It's nice to hear from you again.
Wow, you are so lucky to be able to visit Morioka and the onsen. Please tell us about Yong Joon ssi's work when you come back. You will come to Tokyo for Bonodori, I guess you will go to Gosireh too, right? Please enjoy :)

Btw, are you the Yoko san who wrote about your Korea trips in Quilt? Yes, I can see you love travelling! Do you know a lot of sisters in Tokyo?

love .... jaime

jaime said...

Dear Yudi,

Thank you for your kind words, you are too generous with me :) Actually, the yukata does not feel hot at all. On the contrary, the Japanese kimono and yukata are very comfortable to wear. It may look very restricted with the tight obi sash. Yes, it felt very tight, even painful when you first tie it on, but once your body gets used to it, it is very comfortable and actually can improve one's posture. I love it! Hehe, wanna try one on?

love ..... jaime

jaime said...

hi lady yee,

Yes, I am very grateful for my opportunities and humbled by all the kindness I received. Thanks to Yong Joon, I can see so much beauty in life and in people.
I am glad you like reading my Japanese experience. Looking forward to seeing you soon. Please take care!

love .... jaime

gosijo said...

My dear Jaime,

Congratulations on fulfilling this wish! You look very elegant in your yakuta and hair swept up.

Thanks for sharing this lovely part of your Japan discovery with us!

p.s.: glad to know there will be more parts to your Man of Style series. Looking forward...

jaime said...

My dear gosijo,

You are too kind, this very clumsy gaijin was worrying about her feet with the tabi (socks) would slip out of those shiny smooth geta (lacquer slippers), haha :)

Yes thanks, it's a little wish but it really seemed unattainable to me before. It means a lot in my heart. Always thank you for your support.

love ...... jaime