I love San Jose Obon! I grew up in San Jose and I’ve always enjoyed San Jose Obon.

I enjoy going to the odori dance practices where we relearn the old dances and desperately try to learn the new dance that is introduced each year. I love that I get to enjoy many of my favorite foods (chicken and beef teriyaki, sushi, gyoza, tempura, manju, corn on the cob, imagawayaki, strawberry shortcake, etc.).  I enjoy playing bingo and some of the other games during one of my few breaks. I love dancing on Saturday and Sunday of Obon weekend under the direction of Reiko Iwanaga and the other dance instructors. And I even enjoy working long hours Friday and Saturday nights as a member of the crew that cooks and seasons the rice for the sushi booths (which I’ve been doing for over 45 years).

One of the reasons I look forward to Obon every year is because I get to see so many of my friends and relatives at one place (like my high school buddy Luke and his wife Lauren). I see my brother Lindy and his wife Doreen along with a few other friends who visit from the Sacramento area. I am thrilled to see some of my former students who took a math class from me at West Valley College (Ted, Jean, Denise, and Debra, to name a few). And I always look forward to seeing the friends I’ve made while working at various parts of Obon, especially the rice cooking crew.

But the main reason I enjoy Obon is watching how it brings our community together. I find it so amazing that hundreds and hundreds of people show up every year to help the Betsuin with our Obon Festival and Bazaar. Obon is the “Festival of Joy”, and I see the joy every year. I see how happy they are while they are enjoying all the tasty food that we offer. I see how much fun the people participating in our Obon Odori are having as they boogie to “Shiawase Samba”, try to beat the person next to them at “Janken Ondo”, and get down to San Jose Taiko’s “Ei Ja Nai Ka”. During the Obon Odori, I see how people enjoy watching the dancers or having fun dancing along on the street. And it’s always great to see how happy people are when they run into friends and relatives that they haven’t seen in a while.

Of course, none of this is possible without the proper preparation and planning. So, thank you to Ken Kamei and the Obon Committee for all the work you put in to make our festival a success. Thank you to the office staff for all your support. Thank you to the ministers, minister assistants, and others who help greet visitors in the Hondo.

And most of all, thank you to all of you who volunteer in countless ways. Whether you are new to helping at Obon or if you’re like many of us who have been volunteering most of our lives, thank you so much!! Looking forward to seeing you at San Jose Obon!