こんにちはみんなさん！Konnichiwa minna-san! (Hello, everyone!)
Update: For 2018, the Bon Odori will be held at the same venue on 21 July 2018 (Saturday)!
If you’re wondering why we’re suddenly speaking (typing?) Japanese, it’s because we’re getting into the spirit of Bon Odori, which will be held on 5 September this year at Shah Alam!
Bon Odori (盆踊り), meaning simply “Bon dance”, is an event held during the Bon Festival, a Japanese Buddhist holiday to honor the departed spirits of one’s ancestors. However, the religious aspect of the event has been mostly lost, and the dance is now performed to give summer festivals a lively atmosphere. At the Bon Odori festival, you can expect amazing festivities such as food stalls, games and participants from all walks of life.
The annual Bon Odori festival in Malaysia is held annually at Kompleks Sukan Negara (formerly known as the Panasonic Sports Complex), and 2015 will mark the festival’s 39th year here in Malaysia. Organized by The Japan Club of Kuala Lumpur and supported by Tourism Selangor, the festival is an effort to promote and strengthen cultural ties between Malaysia and Japan. It allows visitors to immerse themselves in Japanese culture, learn more about Japan, and even discover delicious Japanese street cuisine while enjoying the fun atmosphere of a Japanese summer festival with family and friends.
Participants to this year’s Bon Odori will also be welcomed by a special guest – NHK World mascot Domo! Often referred to as Domo-kun, the highly popular brown monster with perpetually bared teeth (don’t worry, he doesn’t bite!) will be at Bon Odori this year for the first time ever. 😀
If you were wondering, admission to Bon Odori is FREE!
But what do I wear to Bon Odori?
Traditionally, yukata or light cotton kimonos are worn to the festival, but if you don’t have one, no worries! Light t-shirts and pants paired with sandals or sneakers are fine as well. (Heels are a big no-no, as there is grass involved.)
If you really want to enjoy Bon Odori complete with a yukata, you can purchase a set from Mid Valley AEON’s Yukata Sale from 19 August to 6 September; or head over to Uniqlo stores in Mid Valley Megamall, Fahrenheit88 and 1Utama that exclusively carry the Uniqlo yukata collection, priced at RM199.90 each.
The 2015 (39th) Bon Odori Festival in Malaysia
5 September 2015
7.00pm – 9.30pm
(gates open at 4.30pm)
Kompleks Sukan Negara, Shah Alam
(formerly Panasonic Sports Complex)
Visitors can carpool and drive to the venue, but parking space at the venue is quite limited. Car Parks are limited at the Panasonic Air‐Conditioning, Nippon Electric Glass, POS building as well as the empty land behind the stadium. Participants are advised to take the KTM and free shuttle bus service. The free shuttle buses service will be provided to and from the Shah Alam KTM station to the venue (4pm – 11pm) for those who are taking public transport, which is encouraged to reduce traffic congestion in the area.
4:30pm – Gates Open
7:00pm – Opening – Drum Performance
7:15pm – Bon Odori Dance Part 1
7:45pm – Dance by Guest Performers
8:00pm – Bon Odori Dance Part 2
8:30pm – “Wadaiko” Guest Performance
8:55pm – Bon Odori Dance Part 3
9:25pm – Closing Address
If it’s your first time attend the Bon Odori festival, don’t fret! We’ve come up with a list of Do’s and Don’ts to help you prepare so that you can fully enjoy the wonderful atmosphere and Japanese culture on display at the event. 🙂
- Wear light clothing as the weather can be hot
- Wear sneakers or sandals
- Bring a hand fan or mini battery-operated fan
- Be prepared to sit on wet grass or running track; bring a newspaper/plastic bag just in case
- Drink sufficient water to keep hydrated
- Apply sunblock
- Bring mosquito repellent
- Bring enough cash for food and drinks (RM50 per person should be more than enough)
- Take lots of great photos
- Be friendly and make new friends
- Join in the Bon Odori dance (it’s fun and easy; just follow the crowd)
- Have fun at the festival
- Wear over-the-top cosplay outfits (you’ll be sweating like mad and it’s not really suitable for a traditional festival)
- Wear overly revealing outfits (respect for the festival and avoid being a target for bugs)
- Wear heels (difficult to walk on the grass and will ruin the turf)
- Simply throw rubbish
- Stare at the Japanese families having a picnic there (it’s rude to stare)
- Miss the shuttle bus back to the KTM station if you’re taking public transport