A traditional Japanese “bon” summer festival took place near the famous pedestrian crossing in the trendy Tokyo downtown area of Shibuya last Saturday. It was a particularly hot and humid day, but by the time the festival started at around 6pm, dusk was falling, paper lanterns were lit, and many young people dressed in yukata summer kimonos had shown up. Many pedestrians and tourists also stopped by to join in the festivities and to dance.
Led by Shigehiro Ide, the choreographer of the new Tokyo Gorin Ondo 2020 song, around 30 dancers from the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee wearing Tokyo 2020 yukata and happi coats performed at the festival. Over 34,000 festival-goers and onlookers joined in the dancing in a circle around the centre stage.
The Tokyo 2020 team was taken by surprise when a group of dancers appeared, saying they had been dancing to the original 1964 Tokyo Gorin Ondo song for many years and had come to the event to learn the new version.
Patrick Moloney, a visitor from Sydney said, "I liked the authenticity coming through and the story behind the song. And the dance physically demonstrates it really well. I think it's really powerful to use it in the run-up to the Games, because it brings people together with a real sense of community. I hope the song will be translated in the future so we can more easily understand the story of the song better."
Next week on 14 August, the Tokyo 2020 team will join a bon dance festival in Iwaki in Fukushima prefecture. This festival has been officially recognised as part of the Tokyo 2020 support programme.
You might hear the Tokyo Gorin Ondo 2020 song at your own local festival this summer. So, learn the dance by following the instruction video, and enjoy!