Tokyobling's Blog

Bonodori Festival at Tsukiji Honganji

Posted in Japanese Traditions, People, Places by tokyobling on August 2, 2013

The season for Bonodori, one of many Japanese dances, is upon us! One of the first big Bonodori festivals for me this year was yesterday at the huge Tsukiji Honaji temple, near Tokyo’s Ginza district. Bonodori generally takes place around a raised podium that is topped by one or two taiko drummers, while the second raised level is used by a group of very experienced bonodori dancers that show the moves to the general audience at street level. Anyone is welcome to join but I have never managed to get the hang of it. The music is slow and reminds most people of enka, the traditional Japanese “pops” so popular with most people over the age of 70 here in Japan. Every song in bonodori is associated with its own set of movements, hence the need to more experienced dancers to lead the dance from a visible spot in the middle!

It was also fun to walk around the temple grounds and check out all the people, not least the four temple members dressed up in big huggable suits that were almost knocked to the ground by swarms of kids running as fast as possible to get the biggest hug!

The Honganji is a very old temple, founded in the 13th century it was moved here after a fire in the early 17th century and detroyed once again in an earthquake in 1923. The temple was rebuilt by the legendary architect Ito Chuta (1867-1954) who was one of the leading architects in the movement to try and create a style that was uniquely Japanese while incorporating elements of all other forms of architecture, from Chinese and Indian all the way back to the ancient greek temples. It is easy to see the classical hellenistic influences on this huge buddhist temple!

The festival continues today and tomorrow, so if you are in Tokyo and want to see one of the best organized bonodori festivals in the city, just take the subway to Tsukiji station at 1900! After the festival I recommend a refreshing evening walk through the Ginza and Yurakucho areas!

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10 Responses

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  1. lola said, on August 2, 2013 at 8:45 am

    hi from spain. thank you so much for sharing nipon festivals. i love the colorful costumes and the great energy of people. they seems to enjoy the festivals so much!. i have been watching bonodori videos in youtube and i love it!
    it makes me smile and even dance. love it

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on August 24, 2013 at 6:15 am

      Hi Lola and thanks a million for your kind comment! I think Spain has a lot of cool festivals as well! Please come back often, now it’s the festival season and about 70% of my posts will be of dancing smiling people! (^-^)

      Like

  2. Rob said, on August 2, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Beautiful photographs! Very well done.

    Like

  3. amadl said, on August 4, 2013 at 5:34 am

    Looks fun! And definiteLy more orderLy than the ones usuaLLy going in Indonesia..

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on August 24, 2013 at 6:19 am

      Haha… I would love to see an Indonesian festival some day! (^-^)

      Like

  4. Jonelle Patrick said, on August 4, 2013 at 8:18 am

    I didn’t think it was possible to make Tsukiji Honganji look good, but you’ve proven me wrong! I’ve never seen it lit up like that, and it looks even better when caught during the magical blue hour that you’re such a master of. The lanterns at this one are spectacular too. Thanks for the pointer!

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on August 24, 2013 at 6:20 am

      Haha… Jonelle! You just have to be there at the right time of the day, the right weather and maybe the right people I guess. The blue hour is like alcohol, it makes everything look good! (^-^)

      Like

  5. Julie said, on August 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm

    The colors in these photos are amazing at such a tricky lighting time of dusk! How cool is the drummer girl? カッコよすぎ!I wanna be her! >.<

    Like

    • tokyobling said, on August 24, 2013 at 6:37 am

      It is part of the wadaiko magic, any girl drumming will look fantastic, if they look fantastic even before drumming then you have super fantastic looking girls! (^-^)

      Like


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