obon festival

@ gardena buddhist church obon

i spent my childhood summers in japan. my memories are filled with time spent with my maternal grandparents, going to japanese school (not all good memories), semi-tori (cicada catching) with my cousin, the humidity, and summer festivals. the obon festival was something i attended from year to year and it's a tradition i'd like my kids to embrace as well. it just seems like ian and maya don't have the same kind of summer traditions i did and i'd like them to have fond memories of their summers as i do.

but in order for them to embrace the tradition, i need to take them to an obon festival every year! sadly, in the last 20 years or so i haven't attended any of the many festivals here in the los angeles area. the one i used to go to is the gardena buddhist church obon, and it's the last one of the season in our area.

i couldn't convince ian to come with us (he opted to play at a friend's house) and jordan had a paper to write, so it was just me and maya. i dressed her up in ian's old jinbei-san (even though she wanted to wear a dress) and we headed to gardena for a little cultural mom & daughter time.

taiko drumming

the main attraction of an obon festival is the obon dancing, which usually happens in the evening, but we couldn't stay that late. instead, we enjoyed some food (shaved ice and sata-andagi donut holes), watched a bit of taiko drumming, and played a couple of games. the festival seemed smaller than i remembered but it was just the right size for our afternoon outing.

project365 :: 08.01.2009
walking through the church grounds and looking at all the people around me, i felt a tad bit out of place. not because i looked any different from the people around me, but because i didn't feel like part of the community.
the japanese american (ja) community has strong ties to each other through many activities for the young and old, annual traditions like obon and nisei week, and families that go back three and four generations in southern california. my step-dad's side of the family has been here for about four generations and my step-sister is pretty tied in with the goings-on in the ja world.
but i've never been a part of that. at the same time, i was never a part of the chuuzai-in (temporary transfers from japan) crowd either. it didn't help that i grew up in manhattan beach with so few asians around me (much less jas). in many ways i feel awkward being at these kinds of events because i know what they're about, but i don't know the ja way (sometimes japanese traditions change or are tweaked over the generations after they've crossed the pacific), or i think i should know about something but i don't and the jas do. basically, i feel in limbo between being a "real" japanese and being ja. and, no wonder. i'm not ja and i'm not really japanese. and my kids are really neither because they don't see themselves as ja or japanese (at least, i don't think ian does and maya needs more time before she even figures out she's not a fairy princess).
i don't think about it often, but there are times when i contemplate cultural self-awareness and what that means for the kids. i want them to be informed about their japanese and jewish heritages but they don't have very good role models in rupert and myself, unfortunately. it's hard to ask your kids to take their cultural backgrounds seriously when you're not very in tune yourself. figuring this all out is another thing to add to my long list of parenting to-dos. at the very least, taking maya to obon and exposing her to it was a start. a pretty tasty start.

1 comment:

Krimey said...

that's great that you're trying to expose them to the japanese culture. gotta start somewhere!

i posted a few weeks ago about my own inner struggle with the not-being-a-part-of-my-culture angst. guess that's a side effect of intermarrying, huh?

hope you're having a fun summer yukari!