Obon Japanese Festival at Buddhist Church of Santa Barbara
By Robert Bernstein
"Obon" means "Dance of Joy" in Japanese and is meant to honor ancestors who died. The Obon Festival is traditionally held in the summer. Santa Barbara celebrated this Obon Festival at the Buddhist Church of Santa Barbara. It is on East Montecito Street near the new Trader Joe's near Milpas Street.
The woman at the left is a member of the church and she told me a bit of the history of the church and of the festival. Most Buddhist centers are called "temples". But this one dates back to the 1960s when there was prejudice against non-Christian religions. "Church" gave the place a more familiar sound for locals.
The first performance was a series of Hula dances which was a bit surprising!
The final Hula dance involved gourds that had been placed on the ground
After the Hula dances came the Obon Dance.
Saburo Koga sang along with the dancing
As a drummer set the rhythm
Everyone was invited to participate!
Those in attendance also sat and ate food
The main food was Spam musubi from L&L Hawaiian Barbecue. Apparently, this is a popular food in Hawaii among ethnic Japanese! I opted for the chicken version instead. My wife and I enjoyed that version!
Inside the church we visited the altar
There was an exhibit of bonsai plants
Satsuki Palter is a teacher of Rimpa flower arrangement and she posed with one of her arrangements
Her students also had arrangements on display
Elaborate origami designs were on display and for sale at very low prices
There were cards and other art and crafts on display and for sale as well
If not for a listing in The Independent on line I never would have known of this little festival! Here is the Facebook page for the Buddhist Church of Santa Barbara.