On Saturday, August 24, 2019, Philadelphians can participate in a Japanese “family reunion” at the Philadelphia Obon Festival. Presented by the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP), the Obon Festival is an annual event that brings Japanese people back to their hometowns to remember their ancestors and reunite with loved ones. This free cultural festival will take place outside of Shofuso, the Japanese house and garden in West Fairmount Park, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The all-day celebration will include bon odori folk dances, taiko drumming, tea ceremony demonstrations, arts and crafts, traditional games, food trucks, and a market with vendors selling Japanese goods. Shofuso will be open with regular admission rates. In the event of rain, the festival will be held on Sunday, August 25.
In Japan, Obon is a festival that combines spiritualism with communal fun. With roots in Buddhism and Confucianism, Obon has evolved into a family reunion holiday during which people return to ancestral family places and the spirits are said to visit their families in turn. The Japanese diaspora has brought Obon outside of Japan, adding new elements such as taiko drumming and cultural demonstrations. Contemporary festivals all over the world regularly feature a carnival-like atmosphere with seasonal snacks like watermelon or inarizushi (a kind of sushi or rice ball) — and in Hawaii, spam musubi.
The Philadelphia Obon Festival features three local food trucks: Poi Dog will sell Japanese Hawaiian fare, Dump 'N Roll will bring dumplings and egg rolls and Purposeful Pops will sell artisanal popsicles. The vendor market will include jewelry from Hikari Wo Sagasu and Origami Jewelry, as well as kimono and accessories by Kanzashi Creations. Renewable energy company Inspire will return as a festival sponsor.
About The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia: