On June 14th, 2014, Kona Hongwanji held their annual Obon Festival at the Keahou Shopping Center. This is the behind the scenes from setup to breakdown, an all day affair put together by the hard work of many people both young and old.
Setup starts promptly at 8 AM with the construction of the vendor tents and yagura, the traditional Japanese tower that the Bon Odori participants dance around.
Traditionally, the yagura is used as a stage for the musicians or dance leaders. However, due to time constraints and transportation logistics, we use a custom built metal frame that we then hang a yagura "skirt" from to simulate a traditional yagura.
After setting up the yagura, the next step is to string up some lighted lanterns for decoration and ambiance.
Another impotant aspect for the yagura is the inclusion and hanging up of our oversized teru teru bozu, affectionately named "Eddie." Teru teru bozus are simple traditional Japanese dolls used to ward off or stop rain. We hang him up every bon dance as a precaution against bad weather.
Meanwhile, the vendor tents get setup by the Boy/Cub scouts and their parents.
Setup is finished by around noon, at which point we clean up what we can and head out, returning around 4:30 PM with the event starting at 6:00 PM.
Our setup for the dance itself involves both traditional Taiko drums and backing music for the audience to dance to. I'll go into more detail on our full setup later, so look forward to that.
After it's all said and done (around 10:00 - 10:30 PM) we start breaking down, put away and packing up the drums and sound system first. Then we take down the yagura and tents. This year had a slight challenge as it started to rain lightly right before we finished, but we accomplished our task regardless. We return to Kona Hongwanji where we air out and dry the yagura skirt and put away everything else. We finish that by about midnight, and finally go home for a good night's rest.
So that was a basic breakdown of one of our annual traditions at Kona Hongwanji. Stay tuned for more when I go over some of our other events.