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Bon Odori!

August 8, 2017

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Hello everyone!

Yesterday we celebrated the Bon festival in our neighbourhood in Kichijoji, and we made a little video about what our experience was like. We talked about it at great lengths on our podcast, but now you can see a bit of what we were talking about. And we got a new lens so we got to test it out. It’s better for nighttime shots. Yay!

Interestingly, we don’t know many people that go to Bon to celebrate. We have two Japanese friends that haven’t gone at all – like ever – while another hasn’t been since they got their first job a couple of decades ago. Which is crazy! We love these festivals. We love the food, the dancing, the little games with the small prizes, the candy apples and cotton candy. We love seeing everyone in their yukatas. There are some really gorgeous ones we saw. And the dancing is so fun. Not serious. Just playful, good fun. You’re not trying to hook up. You’re not trying to show off your moves. Most of the time you don’t know the dance and you’re doing your best to follow along and to learn the moves. It’s just so innocent. I haven’t asked many of our other friends yet (because we literally just went last night), but I hope to get a better understanding of how others feel about Bon, and I hope we can find someone that likes it as much as we do.

We’re not really certain about the origins of the Bon festival. We read something along the lines of a monk checking in on his mother in the afterlife, and seeing that she wasn’t too happy or something, so he decided to dance and sing for her to let her know that he values what she did for him, or something like that. We also read that the origin of Bon isn’t really fully acknowledged now by people celebrating it. People go more for the fun than the spiritual significance, kind of like how Christmas isn’t celebrated by everyone for the birth of Christ, but for the presence and the food.

And, yes, you’ll notice that I shaved my head. Why, you might ask? Well, after a long discussion with my hair, it seemed like we just didn’t see eye to eye on our relationship. I was looking for someone to be there for me, but my hair couldn’t stay committed, so I decided it’s best to cut it off. Goodbye hair! Hello chromedome. This is my new look now.

We’ve got some more dancing in the extras below, if you feel like grooving a bit more :D

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Bon Odori!

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  1. This makes me so excited to one day get to go to festivals like this one! Really enjoyed watching you two in yukatas, dancing away! I hope I get to do this one day soon.

    2 months ago
  2. It looks like so much fun! I always see japanese festivals on youtube and wish I had more festivals at home. It would make the summer so much more fun! It also makes me wish we had a bigger street food culture here in the states as well. It always looks so yummy in other countries!

    As for the shoes, they are hard to get used to, but to make them more comfortable, you have to walk on them right. The hanao (sandal strap) isn’t supposed to go all the way into your toe slot (that sounds gross), but leave a cm of space and grasp the hanao with your two toes as you walk. Also, if you didn’t have anyone size them (and it’s japan, so you might have) then try loosening them from the bottom just a little bit. Your heels are also supposed to hang over the back about a cm or 2 as well. This keeps your yukata from getting caught under your heel! And it’s better if you don’t walk heel-toe. The teeth should be centered under your feet, and land on both teeth at the same time. Practice a little and hopefully that helps! If not, they do sell more modern geta that are a little more user friendly!

    2 months ago
  3. I said this on the YT video but I have to say it again – watching this made me so excited to attend my local Bon Odori festival….then I realized it’s this weekend and I already have plans T_T.

    Anyway! Love the new head Simon. ^_^ it suits you really well. Goes nicely with your buff body. All the cool muscle guys are bald: Vin Diesel, Bruce Willis, Terry Crews, The Rock; you’re joining a cool(er) club. ^_^

    2 months ago
  4. Glad to hear you guys had a lot of fun at the Odori festival :) I salute you both for wearing the wooden sandals cause those weren’t comfortable looking (as you guys stated haha) hopefully a hot water foot soak helped at the end of the night. You guys are looking great and really liking the new style Simon it works really well for you!

    2 months ago
  5. Looking at this reminds me of our area’s yearly Japanese Cultural Awareness festival the music sounds similar and doesn’t matter if you don’t know the dances because they have instructors on stage calling out the dance moves and my favorite part is the yakisoba stands though they have a few other slightly more recognizable Americanized treats like a hamburger stand, jambalaya stand, and a few others. One year I even spotted a girl in a Sailor Fuku handing out leaflets for Hamacon an anime convention. And of course, there is a lot of fun activities mostly for folks with kids and for the adults lots of music, dance, and raffle drawings.

    2 months ago
  6. Looks so fun! And Simon, you look really good bald! Didn’t even notice it at first, it’s so natural on you. Rock on!

    2 months ago
  7. I miss Japan so much! It looks like you guys are really enjoying your life in Japan.
    Ignore the ignorant people who are complaining about cultural appropriation. As a half Japanese person, I don’t think that at all! It’s cultural APPRECIATION.

    2 months ago
  8. What a super adorable video! IT’s funny but I actually recognized what was going on from your short video last year = yay! I’m so glad that you had the chance to go again and have more fun thisyear. You both look so nice in your yukatas. Simon, your new look is less gangsta and more buddhist, but I dig it. I feel ya on the hair tho’, my hair was as long as Martina’s but 3 weeks ago I gave up in this humid heat and now I have a double fade and short and curly on top. Your hair will grow back, probably when you least expect it to, that cut is hard to maintain. Just remember to wear a hat in the sun, I burnt my scalp TWICE now. Speaking of hair, Martina, your hair is very lovely, I totally admire you for being able to wear it down (even partially) in the heat, I just can’t do it. You got the chance to wear all your hair clippies and special things with your yukata and it looked really sweet – squeeee! <3 Perhaps Dr. Scholls makes a version of those sandals that are comfy since he made wooden ones back in the 1970s? I did see some people in yukatas that had less traditional ones on. I think it's like wooden office chairs, you can get the standard one that hurts your butt after 3 hours or you can get one with the butt cut-out/contouring that somehow makes all the difference, maybe there are comfier version of those sandals? In any case, that festival was just lots of sweet family fun, but with booze, perfect for summer, now they just need some fireworks too. Heh. Martina, did you ask that girl where she got those light up wings? Because they were awesome. Even with the low lighting, the quality and clarity of the video itself were great and the audio came out well despite the need for heavy filtering. I like the way you shot the film, made me really feel like I was there. You turned this video around super fast, I'm amazed <3

    2 months ago
    • Thank you! Surprisingly, we didn’t add any audio filters to this. We did a lot of mixing and crossfading, but we mostly left the audio as is. Some parts were louder than others, but we couldn’t turn those down without losing our speaking in it.

      Also, I’m super careful not to burn my scalp. The sun is a deadly laser. I’m using as much SPF as I can handle!

      2 months ago
  9. This video made me so happy! It really made me feel the atmosphere of the festival…I kinda felt like I was there with you. Travelling is so amazing! seeing different cultures, people, eating good food and experiencing new things is just so amazing. I’m hope to travel to Japan next year :) I haven’t been for 5 years but absolutely loved it!

    2 months ago