You don’t have to visit the Groove too many times to see that we residents of the Emerald City don’t need a whole lot of excuse for a celebration. Give us even the slimmest reason, and we’ll line up local musicians, put some food on a grill and have a party.
But many of our celebrations are storied and enduring, nurtured from decade to decade by deep roots and community connection. That’s the case with the annual Obon (pronounced o-bone) Festival, hosted by the Japanese American Association of Lane County.
For 21 years, this Festival of Lanterns has offered Eugene an opportunity to join not only an evening of traditional circle dancing and Taiko drumming, but also a celebration of history and connection. Obon is a Japanese Buddhist custom to honor the departed (deceased) spirits of one’s ancestors. In Japan, the celebration has evolved into a family reunion holiday. In Eugene, that family has stretched to include anyone who is willing to join the circle and dance.