Santa Maria Times covers the 2016 Obon Festival

The Guadalupe Buddhist Church thanks the Santa Maria Times for the coverage of the 2016 Obon Festival. Below is a cut and paste of the online article by Gina Kim and Len Wood.

The Guadalupe Buddhist Church will celebrate and show their gratitude toward their ancestors’ spirits with live performances, music and food at the annual Obon Festival from noon to 5 p.m. Sunday.

The festival, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Veterans’ Memorial Community Center at 313 W. Tunnell St. in Santa Maria.

Traditionally a Japanese custom to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors returning to their homes and reuniting with their loved ones, the event has evolved into a family holiday celebration, according to Rev. Naomi Nakano, of the Guadalupe Buddhist Church.

This year’s festivities include traditional Obon dances, martial arts demonstrations, Bonsai instruction and Taiko drumming. Varieties of Japanese cuisine will be featured, including half-chicken teriyaki dinners, sushi, barbecue kushiyaki, udon, fried wontons and more.

The festival attracts 500 to 700 guests each year, Nakano said.

“We put together this event for such a long time, and people who know about it always return,” she said. “It’s a fun experience, and it’s a great family-friendly community event and a time for everyone to have fun.”

She added, “Obon started out traditionally to show gratitude for all that’s been given to us by our ancestors, but as time went on, lots of people decided to combine it into a festival. It’s also proven to be a major fundraising opportunity.”

The event will also have several Japanese-themed arts and crafts booths, face painting for children and other family-friendly activities and a raffle drawing. A Bonsai tree demonstration will also be featured and guests can learn about the intricacies of maintaining the plant.

“The Bonsai tree demonstration is a great art form,” Nakano said. “They’re special because they stay the same size, even if they’re over 100 years old. People can make landscape scenery out of these trees, and they can learn how to trim the plants, train the branches to bend and grow a certain way.”

Two Taiko (traditional drumming ensembles) groups from San Luis Obispo and Oxnard will perform during the festival.

It gives a chance for guests to release their inhibitions as they are encouraged to dance along with the percussion ensembles, Nakano said.

“There’s always a lot of detail and planning that goes into Obon Festival every year. We always begin preparing again for the next year right away. It’s a good time of celebration for everyone of all ages.”

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