Map of Southeastern US
Photo 1 Greetings from South Carolina! Image by Wikipedia
Map to show Charleston, SC, Greenville, SC, Atlanta, GA, and Charlotte, NC
Photo 2 It is about 340 kilometers (212 miles). You can get there in three hours and 40 minutes via the Interstate, said the computer. Image by Alexrk – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=7070376 and edited by Amity Language Institute
ふりがなつき和文(わぶん)はここをクリックしてください。Please click here for the Japanese translation with furigana.

1. The 2019 Greenville Bon Dance Festival

On August 24, we visited Greenville, South Carolina. The purpose was to see the Greenville Bon Dance Festival.

Bon Dance is a traditional Japanese event in mid-August and this one in Greenville was hosted by Japan-American Association of South Carolina.

We had never been to Greenville, and so everything was new and interesting.

Here are some pictures from the trip; we want you to feel that you came to the festival with us!

The reception desk at the Japanese festival
Photo 3 The Reception Desk

The venue was a shopping mall.

It seemed that they had rented an entire shopping mall building for the day, because all the stores in the mall were closed.

A little surprised, we thought it would be very expensive to rent a place like this and they might be sponsored by big companies. For the same reason, there might be expensive game equipment with big computers and large screens to show animation and 3D image shows and things like that.

But we didn’t see any advertisements and signboards claiming sponsorships.

Most booths and demonstrations were hand-made or low-tech, and therefore in very Showa-Era-style. 

It means we were reminded of the 60’s and 70’s, when children were playing with simple, inexpensive toys, without using electronics. We wonder if the traditional toys and games at the festival would please today’s kids living in the US, but they looked happy enough.

After all, that might have been the host’s purpose. 

The traditional yo-yo fishing pool at the Japanese festival, Greenville, SC
Photo 4 Yo-yo fishing was at the entrance

There were some traditional games offered to children at Bon Dance festivals in Japan.

Yo-yo fishing was one of them.

Two girls in kimono at the Japanese festival at Greenville, SC
Photo 5 Kids in Kimono

Many children, and some adult women came in yukata (unlined kimono for summer), which added to the atmosphere!

A boy trying a traditional Japanese drum at the Japanese festival, Greenville, SC
Photo 6 He is concentrating so much that his tongue is sticking out

A taiko (traditional Japanese drum) was set up so that anyone could try it.

There was a taiko performance on the stage, too, but we missed it.

Shooting of the toys, a traditional game at Japanese festivals
Photo 7 Shooting of the toys

If he hits his mark (a toy), it will be his!

2. Something for Adults, too

Not only children but also adults enjoyed the festival. There were a variety of demonstrations of cultural activities and martial arts on the stage.

A demonstration of tea ceremony at the Japanese festival in Greenville, SC
Photo 8 Tea ceremony demonstration

The teacher of tea ceremony was explaining the moves of the demonstrator, her student, in English.

All of the demonstrations were prepared in English so that non-Japanese speakers could understand, and every sign and explanation was written in English and Japanese.

Calligraphy writing at the Japanese festival at Greenville, SC
Photo 9 She was writing on many uchiwas according to the specifications in the order sheets

This lady was finishing a made-to-order uchiwa, or the traditional round-shaped paper fan, with her calligraphy.

We guess you could come up to the calligraphy-uchiwa booth with a ticket and ask the staff to finish a blank uchiwa with calligraphy of their favorite word or their name transcribed in Chinese characters.

Origami learning booth at the Japanese festival in Greenville, SC
Photo 13 Making of a goldfish

After you get your uchiwa with calligraphy, you could walk to another booth, such as the origami booth, like this lady.

A demonstration of the Japanese traditional archery
Photo 14 “I wanna learn it from this teacher”

On the stage, every 15 minutes, a different kind of demonstration took place.

We didn’t have time to wait for the kendo (fencing) demonstration, but we were happy to see kyuudo, the Japanese archery.

Paper sumo game at the Japanese festival in Greenville, SC
Photo 17 No matter how many times, and with different rikishi’s, the American lady won.

This booth was for you to play paper sumo against the lady in happi coat.

You pick a paper rikishi (sumo wrestler) doll and so does she.  Then you place your dolls in the ring on the box and drum the top of the box very fast with your two index fingers until one doll falls. If your opponent’s rikishi falls first, you win.

[Click for Bon Dance video / 盆踊りの動画]

We missed the most important “Bon Dance” demonstration. Here is a video we borrowed from Facebook of The Japanese-American Association of South Carolina.

This song is “Tanko-Bushi”. When we were small, we would dance to it literally hundreds of times in our yukata.

3. Greenville and “Falls Park on the Reedy

After we left the festival, we walked around in Greenville a little.

A walkway along the Reedy River, Greenville, SC
Photo 19 A stroll on the bank of the Reedy River

This must be one of the nicest parts in the city of Greenville. The Reedy River flows through a big park called Falls Park on the Reedy and new, elegant apartment and office buildings developed on the banks.

The suspension bridge over the Reedy River
A view of the suspension bridge and the falls on the Reedy

We saw some Japanese restaurants in the center of the city, but Japanese restaurants or stores were not so conspicuous.

From about the end of the 19th Century, Greenville was a city which thrived with cotton mill businesses. The city was known as “the Textile Center of the South”.

A building with a nice mural in the historic district in Greenville, SC
Photo 15 In the historic district of Greenville

In our next posts, we tried to make out how the Japanese Bon Dance began in Greenville.

=> The Greenville Bon Dance Festival (2) Why in Greenville?

For references, please see the bottom of the Japanese text. =>Click here

=>Return to 2019 Posts / 2019年投稿記事へ戻る

=>Return to Home/「ホーム」へ戻る

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