Culture of a Japanese American

Since I was a child, every summer end was marked by the annual obon festival. We would arrive to the community center and my sisters and I would search for our Great Uncle who always gave us money to play the games. I only remember seeing him a few times a year; once at the obon and once possibly for new years where we would eat rainbow jello and sit on the floor. My Mom and Great Aunt would usher us into a small changing room where dozens of other dancers would be getting dressed in their yukata. The part I hated the most was the sash (obi) that wrapped around my waist, making it impossible to breath. I also hated that we were not allowed to eat while in our yukata with exception to the free hot dog that was handed out after all the dancing was over.

Today, the festival is colored with diverse attendees of many cultures, just as the SF bay area has grown to become even more diverse over the years (and it is beautiful). We still dress up in our Yukatas but sometimes we feel out of place acting so “traditional” and in light of the trending “cultural appropriation”. Last summer we attended the San Jose Obon as well as the Concord Obon.

I wonder what it will be like when my daughter is old enough to dance.


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