79th Ginza Bazaar & 86th Bon Odori

Sat, July 22, 1pm–6pm /  Sun, July 23, 11am–6pm / (Bon Odori July 23, 1pm–3pm)

(Octavia Street Entrance, near Pine)

The first organized Bon Odori was held in the Buddhist Church of San Francisco's gym in 1931.  In 1938 the first Ginza Bazaar was organized adding to the festivities and celebration of San Francisco's Japantown community.

The Buddhist Church of San Francisco Celebrates its 86th Obon Festival Honoring the Spirit of One’s Ancestors – Last Remaining Bon Odori Festival in the City & County of San Francisco.

“Open Hearts, Open Minds:  Compassion, Wisdom, Gratitude” is the theme for the Buddhist Church of San Francisco’s 79th Ginza Bazaar/86th Bon Odori Street Dance Festival, July 22-23, 2017.  It reflects what is needed today.  From the teachings of the Buddha, kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity are the Primal Vow of Unconditional Love.  The public is invited to join in this special weekend that will bring over a thousand visitors and many newcomers to the Japantown community to share that compassion, wisdom and gratitude.  It is our most popular and festive fundraising community event of the year.

For 79-years, the Bazaar has become an annual tradition in San Francisco Japantown.  The Bazaar features 2 whole days of delicious Japanese food prepared by our sangha, cultural art performances and demonstrations such as taiko, awa-odori dances, ikebana demos, Japanese-American book readings and shopping opportunities at our Silent Auction & BWA Boutique featuring handmade Japanese arts & crafts, books.

The weekend culminates with the beautiful and festive Bon Odori street dancing on Sunday, July 23, 1:00 – 3:00 pm.  We welcome the SF community to don traditional dress and join our sangha in dance, to reflect a sense of appreciation for the perseverance of our predecessors in the past, and to take responsibility for our actions in the present for the well-being of others and future generations.


Jiten Daiko, a young Bay Area Japanese Taiko drumming ensemble that presents a fusion of innovation and tradition drawn from both Japanese and American influences.  Their unique training system aspires to bring a youthful and energizing sound to the stage.  (http://jitendaiko.org/)

BCSF Children's Taiko, established to offer children of the Buddhist Church of San Francisco the opportunity to appreciate the art of Taiko. The children learn, practice, and perform together, and have performed at the Ginza Bazaar for many years. (http://www.buddhistchurchofsanfrancisco.org/childrens-taiko/)

SF Awakko Ren, a Bay Area dance group that performs Awa Odori, a type of dance that originates from the largest dance festival in Japan, celebrated in the streets of Tokushima City every August for over 400 years.  (https://www.sf-awakko.com/)

The Gay Asian Pacific Alliance Men’s Chorus provides a showcase for the vocal music talents of gay, bisexual and transgender Asian & Pacific Islander men.  They perform songs in English and in Asian Pacific languages at community events and their own concerts around San Francisco.  (http://gapamc.org/)

Shogo Yamada, head chef and owner of Yamasho Restaurant in SF, will perform Kawachi Ondo (河内音頭) a Japanese folk song that originates from Osaka Prefecture. Kawachi Ondo accompanies the Bon dance (also known as Bon Odori) in the Osaka/Kawachi region of Japan, however, this song has recently grown in popularity and is often played at other major Bon dances, even in Tokyo. 

Ensohza, a “minzoku-geino” or Japanese folk performing ensemble that evokes the festival spirit and character of Japan’s diverse rural communities. With lively vocals accompanied by fue and shakuhachi (bamboo flutes), shamisen (a string instrument) and the beat of the taiko drum, Ensohza transports you to Japan’s mountain and fishing villages with traditional folk songs and festival dance music.  (http://www.ensohza.org/)

Theatre of Yugen is an experimental ensemble dedicated to the pursuit of the intangible essence of yugen (幽玄)—yu (“profound” and “tranquil”) and gen (“mysterious”). With a foundation in Japanese noh drama and kyogen satire—the world’s oldest living style of theatre (over 600 years old)—Yugen creates works of world theatre by crafting original material and exploring dramatic and literary classics. (http://www.theatreofyugen.org/)

Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, will be demonstrated by Nobu Kurashige, Professor of Ikenobo Ikebana and Managing Director of Ikenobo Ikebana Society of America.  She holds a Master’s degree in International Culture from Yamaguchi Prefectural University and studied ikebana at the Ikenobo Kensyugakuin training school after which she taught at the Ikenobo Junior College in Kyoto and was a lecturer for Doshisha University.  (http://www.ikenobo.jp/english/)

Reading by celebrated author Dr. Satsuki Ina, who will read from her new book “The Poet and the Silk Girl: Love Letters from an American Concentration Camp”, which is based on “From a Silk Cocoon,” the documentary she produced, wrote, and directed, about the World War II internment of Japanese Americans.

The soon to be published book is a love story, a historic narrative, and a lesson about democracy so relevant for today's post 9/11 America. Woven throughout the 180 letters exchanged by Shizko and Itaru Ina during their 4 ½ years confinement in barbed wire bound prison camps, are their diary entries, haiku poetry, family photos, and secret letters stitched into clothing.  The writings of the Poet and the silk Girl, who met and fell in love at the 1939 World's Fair on Treasure Island, offers a first person account of the struggle of an American family caught in the vise of war and loyalty.

Dr. Ina is currently a psychotherapist in private practice specializing in the treatment of childhood trauma.  She serves as a consultant to educational, cultural and religious communities regarding sexual abuse, the psychological impact of racism, and cross-cultural communications.

Reading by renowned poet, playwright, and actor Hiroshi Kashiwagi, the Nisei author of “Swimming in the American: A Memoir and Selected Writings,” “Ocean Beach,” and multiple plays.  For his writing and performance work on stage he is considered an early pioneer of Asian American theatre.

Other activities include bingo, silent auction, tours of the Buddhist Church Hondo (temple), kids games, arts & crafts, a bookstore, and more.  The festival is free to the public and is a wonderful weekend outing for the entire family.