Normie Tries: Bon Odori 2023

Hey there! I’m Ira and I’m what some people may refer to as a normie — no joke, someone literally called me this once — which according to the internet, refers to a person who is seemingly pretty normal with conventional tastes that don’t group them into any specific communities (ouch!). That’s why I’m here to try all the activities, events and more to show you that maybe there is a place for a normie like me after all.

A few weekends ago, I tried going to Bon Odori for the first time! I’ve always heard of the Bon Odori festival happening around July of every year in Malaysia, but I’ve never had the chance to explore it for myself until this year. 

But wait, hold up. What is Bon Odori?

The term Bon Odori actually refers to the dance that is performed during the Obon festival that originated from Japanese culture. The Obon festival is usually celebrated in Summer, specifically around the end of July or August. As a whole, this festival honors the spirits of their ancestors with the Bon Odori dance performed all over Japan to receive these spirits and send them off again. However, nowadays the religious aspect isn’t as heavily emphasized but the dance is held as a way to liven up summer festivals along with the bright, colourful traditional wear and decorations.

With the backstory out of the way, back to the main event! Bon Odori 2023 happened at the Shah Alam National Sports Complex (Panasonic) on the 22nd of July 2023 this year. There are a few other smaller Bon Odori events that happened alongside this, but this specific one was jointly organized by The Japan Club of Kuala Lumpur, The Japanese School of Kuala Lumpur and Embassy of Japan with the help of the Alumni Look East Policy Society (ALEPS), Japan Graduates’ Association of Malaysia (JAGAM) and The Japanese Chamber of Trade & Industry, Malaysia Tourism Selangor Sdn Bhd.

This Bon Odori event was huge! With thousands of enthusiastic event go-ers, plenty of food and beverage vendors, alongside many performances with a big stage set up in the centre of the stadium which is in classic Bon Odori fashion. The crowd was a very large one, and as a result, we struggled to get parking nearby as the parking locations were completely full and vehicles began to line the streets along the factories nearby. While I had tons of energy saved for the trip, I definitely wasn’t expecting a long walk from the parking spot we managed to get, all the way to the venue itself.

However, upon stepping into the stadium, my spirits were immediately lifted as I stood in awe of the whole scene. The decorations of the large stage and the bright lanterns definitely helped to set the mood, but what truly made me all warm and fuzzy inside was to see all the beautiful and colorful traditional Yukatas worn by the event go-ers. I personally wasn’t able to get a full Yukata ensemble on time before the event but the amount of people that were beautifully dressed in the traditional wear was heartwarming indeed.

It was made even more enjoyable when the dancing session began. The dances were split up into a few sessions, probably to allow the dancers and the people to rest in between, but each session encouraged event go-ers to join in on the simple traditional dance circling around the large center stage. The significance of the dance is to call upon the spirits of ancestors, and by the end of it, the spirits are encouraged to return. Typically the dance goes on for hours, but of course, these sessions only ranged for about 30 minutes.

Many people came in big groups just like ours and laid out mats for a cute picnic overlooking the stage. Some would bring their own food and beverages to enjoy, but in case you didn’t, they had many stalls there ranging from Japanese street foods such as Okonomiyaki, Takoyaki and Yakiniku, with many other refreshing drinks. Surprisingly, they also have stalls that sold Gacha games and souvenirs with a few stalls that had games you could play in true Japanese festival fashion. If you didn’t own a Yukata, there was also a stall that offered Yukata Rentals at the event so you don’t miss out on the full experience.

For my first time there, I had a really fun time! It was a great experience to learn the cultural significance of the festival and the dances while also being able to just chill and hang out with friends over some (possibly overpriced) Japanese food, under the pretty lanterns illuminating the night sky. This year’s Bon Odori just made me hyped for the next time around and I’ll surely be dressed up, fully prepared for the best experience!

What should the “Normie” try next? Let us know in the comments below!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

What’s New On Netflix Malaysia This August 2023

What’s New On Netflix Malaysia This August 2023

This month is the best time to catch up with anime!

The Largest Tabletop Games Event In Malaysia Returns For Its Second Year!

The Largest Tabletop Games Event In Malaysia Returns For Its Second Year!

Last weekend on the 29th and 30th of July 2023, we had the lucky opportunity to

You May Also Like