Who do Japanese people dance bon odori, traditional Japanese dance, without smiling? Don’t you think they don’t look like they are having fun at all? My Japanese friend, who is a night club lover, said this to me when we were at a Japanese festival in Toronto. I had never thought about it, yet I agreed with her opinion, since I could see these unsmiling dancers in front of me.
Certainly, bon odori has choreography and nobody is allowed to do their own moves and get out of line. Moreover, the way bon odori is in sync looks nicer than not being in sync. Besides, it is almost impossible to dance hard due to wearing Yukata, the Japanese traditional outfit.
I have some experience in joining other countries’ festivals, yet I have never seen anything like the bon odori style before. Many people danced in their own way or in syne with big smiles in there.
When I compare bon odori with other countries’ dance, I realize bon odori has its own strong discipline and it reminds me that Japanese culture is its own culture that has a tacit understanding: Being the same is good, being different is bad, and following your predecessors is good.
In addition, it is not only traditional dance like bon odori but also popular Japanese girl idol groups’ performance as well.
The most famous Japanese girl idol group is AKB48. They wear similar clothes, have similar hair styles, have similar makeup, make similar smiles, have similar singing voices, and everybody is thin. To be honest, I cannot find out the difference between them; I can see everybody is all the same. And of course, they dance the same way in sync and make dance formations like bon odori.
It is a little bit of a big realization to me. While living in Toronto, I have few chances to reach Japanese culture. Yet once I reach it, I realize new aspects of Japanese culture since I can compare Japanese culture to others. Continuing to do it, I believe I can understand Japanese culture more deeply.
Above all, living in a foreign country helps us understand and analyze our own culture more, and I am glad to have these opportunities in Toronto.
Japanese ver. is here