Saturday, July 21, 2012

Bon Odori Kori

Seattle Bon Odori, $3 

Obon is a Japanese summer-season holiday that sees droves of city-dwellers returning to their hometowns to gather in appreciation of their ancestors; it's a homecoming for both the living and the dead.  The traditional Obon activities range from temple ceremonies to the cleaning of graves to the festive group dances known as Bon Odori.  

In Seattle, Bon Odori takes place in the street outside the Japanese Buddhist Temple.  There are displays, speeches, performances, souvenirs, dozens of dances, and--for those who've worked up an appetite or a sweat--plenty of festival foods.  

On hot days the demand for kori shaved ice cups keeps Temple volunteers on the hop.  The huge blocks of ice (below, left) have to be sawn down to the right size to fit in the ice shaving machine, then the piles of snow are rapidly packed into paper cups (below, right) and decked out with the buyer's choice of syrups (top), condensed milk, or soupy red beans. 

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