A Bon Festival ( or Obon Matsuri) occurs during the hottest part of the summer when it said that distance the natural and supernatural world is the smallest. People then come together to remember those that have passed on or where lost as a community. Traditionally, a specific regional style of dancing and music is performed by those in attendance to welcome spirits.
Our hope is to use the festival as an opportunity for our community to heal and process the tremendous loss and damage the COVID-19 pandemic has caused through the arts.
The Bon Odori Association of Japan, Asian Improv aRts Midwest, and Shubukai’s Fujima Yoshinojo will be helping to support this important new event. Fujima Sensei is also a resident artist of the Japanese Arts Foundation and instructor at the Japanese Culture Center, and we will be hosting virtual Bon Odori dance lessons on 3 Tuesdays leading up to the Bon Fest, so everyone can participate from the convenience of their own home.
Festival Program Schedule
The program will begin streaming on the JAF’s Twitch channel at 8 PM CDT on July 31, with a variety of guests sharing their own local festival memories and traditions.
Speakers will include Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago Kenichi Okada, Fujima Kimiei of Shizuoka, Japan, Atsushi Koike of Mitsuwa, Arlington Heights, Melody Takata of Tsukasa Taiko San Francisco, and more!
The event then continues with a dusk performance stream from the Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park with Taiko performances by Tsukasa Taiko, and Bon Odori dancing by Shubukai.
We hope that you can join us in participating remotely from the comfort of your own home!
Bon Odori Dance Class Schedule
Join the FREE virtual class and learn with Yoshinojo Fujima Sensei, assisted by Ikunojo Fujima, both of Shubukai. We are honored to be collaborating with Kimiei Fujima Sensei from Shizuoka, Japan and Ageha Bijou Sensei from the Nihon Bon Odori Association to learn four bon odori:
Shizuoka Meguri, Shizuoka Ondo, Tanko Bushi, and Tokyo Ondo.
Bon Odori is made for people to come together and express their joy, respect, and feeling of community; to feel a connection with their ancestors and with everyone.
One does not have to be a professional dancer, the dances are simple and fun!
July 6th, 13th, and 27th at 7PM
- Each virtual lesson you will learn two dances.
- Make sure to wear comfortable clothing.
- We recommend you make space so you can dance moving in a circle (you can dance around a chair or even a table).
- Pdf illustrations for each dance will be available for you to use and review.
- Please register with the links below to ensure all the information for the class.
Bon Odori Dance Class Part 1 on July 6 from 7 – 8 PM CDT
Bon Odori Dance Class Part 2 on July 13 from 7 – 8 PM CDT
Bon Odori Dance Class Part 3 on July 27 from 7 – 8 PM CDT
Bon Odori Association of Japan
Bon Odori has an over 1,000 year history with origins of connecting with ancestors and wishing for bountiful harvests. The Bon Odori Association of Japan work earnestly to continuing sharing this tradition and developing the art forward both within Japan and internationally. They collaborate and perform with the Nihon Minyo (folksong) Society, local tourist organizations, cultural preservation groups, and other various businesses and organizations (e.g. Cool Japan, NHK) to promote Bon-odori culture.
Bijo Ageha Sensei
Bijo Ageha Sensei is the main ambassador for the Nihon Bon-odori Association, whose mission is to try and popularize the Bon-odori Dances which exist throughout Japan; not limited to where each dance originated, but nationally as well as throughout the world to promote community activation and strengthening intergenerational harmony.
Asian Improv aRts Midwest
Asian Improv aRts Midwest was created in 1984, by Chicago based artist and community leader Tatsu Aoki. Since, then AIRM has been leading the way in creating bridges by connecting communities through Asian American cultural arts from coast to coast for over 20 years.
Tsukasa Taiko is dedicated to building community and being a leader in the taiko drumming culture of the Midwest. The groups offers instruction, education, and performances to achieves the mission of preserving and nurturing traditional concepts of Japanese art as a cultural legacy, while also expanding and evolving the art.
Tsukasa Taiko maintains a national profile with powerful performances across the country throughout the world, including such prestigious venues as the Contemporary Museum of Art, the Steppenwolf Theater, the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, the Chicago Jazz Festival, Chicago Symphony Center, the Smithsonian, and the Malta International Theater Festival in Poland.
Shubukai (formerly Fujima Ryu of Chicago) is the only Japanese certified classical dance program in the Midwest. It’s lineage and link with Japan is maintained through communication and collaboration with Grandmasters Fujima Shusen and Fujima Shuryu in Tokyo, Japan. Shubukai performs at festivals and various events throughout the year in the Chicagoland area andthe annual student recital has been presented for over 42 years.
Yoshinojo Fujima Sensei
Grandmaster Yoshinojo Fujima is trained in the Fujima Style (Iemoto Fujima Kan’emon VI/ Kabuki name Onoe Shoroku IV) of Japanese Classical dance, and received her professional stage name (Natori) from Shunojo Fujima, and her Grandmaster teaching license (Shihan) in Japan. As a principle member of Shubukai, (formally known as Fujima Ryu of Chicago), she performs, teaches, and continues to return to Japan to perform and train. The Fujima School is one of the five main dance schools in Japan and is known for its intricate choreography as well as dancemaking for kabuki theater. Fujima Sensei also holds regular workshops and class at the Japanese Culture Center and is an artist in residence with the Japanese Arts Foundation.
Learn more about our Nihon Buyo program here.
Kimiei Fujima Sensei
Kimiei Fujima Sensei began learning classical Japanese Dance from age three, and has attained her stage name and grandmaster license in the Fujima Style. Her teacher, Shu-ei Fujima, taught the bon odori for the Shizuoka Obon Festival and after her passing, Kimiei Sensei has carried on the teaching for the Bon odori Festival, the Shizuoka Festival, and the Fujieda Festival.