Last night my neighborhood celebrated its annual summer festival at the local elementary school grounds. It featured various food, games, minyo folk songs and obon dancing. The turnout was very good - lots of families and children of all ages. Many people wore the traditional yukata. I was happy to see the wide variety of people present at this neighborhood event. I recall several years ago when I lived in Nara participating in a similar summer festival. I remember a group of bosozuku (young Japanese bikers) dancing with senoir citizens and children - it was one of those great examples of communitas that anthropologists love to see. And so the event in my current neighborhood celebrated in a similar way (yes, there were a couple of dancing bikers last night as well) is a good sign to see in the midst of declining birthrates, various social problems and fears of vanishing traditions in contemporary Japan. A sense of community is alive and well. The summer will be full of such festivals - if you are in Japan, please participate. Dance! And don't forget your camera.
Link to more photos of the event: https://picasaweb.google.com/visual.gonthros/NeighborhoodSummerFestival?authuser=0&feat=directlink
It sure is nice to be focusing on something positive. Happy Summer from VAOJ!