Happening Celebration @ Bon Odori Penang, Esplanade

Bon Odori, all this while in our Malaysian mind this mean “Ghost Festival” in Japanese. However, this is a very wrong perception. Bon Odori (盆踊り) simply means Bon dance. It is an event held during Obon. It is celebrated as a reminder of the gratefulness one should feel towards one’s ancestors. It is very similar to Chinese’s “Cheng Beng” (清明) Festival.

Bon Odori is originally started by Nenbutsu folk dance to express the effusive welcome for the spirits of the dead, the style of celebration varies in many aspects from region to region.

In Penang, Bon Odori Festivals are also celebrated every year at Esplanade on the big field. As usual this year Bon Odori had attracted a lot of people too. At this day most of the Japanese Expatriates will gather here with their Yukata (Summer Kimono) for celebration and performances.



Some even put up a stalls to sell Japanese traditional food and games.

There is even a haunted house set up at the front corner of the field. This situation is like placing haunted house during “Cheng Beng”.

One of the Japanese kids is trying to challege another “big boss” at his age while all the ladies are watching.

Check out the ladies who were helping the “big boss” to take off the underpant of the challenger. Whether the underpant will be successfully taken off, that is up to your imagination.

There are varieties of food selling at the stalls around Esplanade. You can see there was a wide array of western bakeries at the stall.

Even Roast Gypsy Chicken was available too. There are also Char Koay Teow and Hokkien Mee available at the stalls there. However, most of the food sells there are local and even western food. There are not much Japanese’s food available. I was looking for “Bando” but no luck.

The Japanese Obasan (Grannies) came in a group with their Yukata uniforms, I believe they were preparing for dancing too.

One of the outstanding Yukata dressing with a golden rose on her head

“Kawaii” (Cute) little Japanese Girls with their Yukata on.

Catching gold fish is one of the traditional games for Japanese. There are many Japanese kids squatting there just to wait for the game to start.

Another Kawaii Japanese girl that will be performing on the stage later.

The teenager group. The guy was speaking in Japanese which I didn’t know what he was saying when I took their pictures. May be he was trying to say “Please make it fast, you are the 20 over people that asking me to pause for photos.”

Finally, a stall that selling Japanese goodies.

Momiji dolls are available for sale at 3 sets for RM28. I really love all the dolls that are made in such cute and fine art. Too bad I didn’t have much money in my pocket so I just managed to take the photos of the dolls only.

Japanese Samurai and Geisha dolls on the display.

The Kawaii girl that was catching the gold fish earlier was rehearsing on stage now.

The drum-beating rehearsal was done after the traditional Japanese dance.

Partial movie capture of the drum performance.

Bon Odori was officially kicked-off by our State Tourism Development and Culture Committee chairman Danny Law.

Finally, YB Lim Guan Eng arrived at 6:30pm.

Overall I find this event is great to let us experience the tradition and culture from other countries. However, there are some improvement that need to be made. The meaning of Bon Odori should be made clear that it is not “Ghost Festival”. Also the food should have been more Japanese style instead of local or Western Style.

13 thoughts on “Happening Celebration @ Bon Odori Penang, Esplanade”

  1. I think this is one of the nicest annual events in Penang… miss it terribly! I went to the KL version some years back and it’s just not the same thing… less intimate, less down to earth. Pity about the lack of Jap food though! Was there Jap beer to compensate??

  2. went last year and felt that the food and items sold are localized and hardly Japanese. Made up my mind not to pack with the crowd this year..and glad too, since you felt the same after going this time.

  3. I went this year, but was disappointed over the Jap food offerd there . Last time got Japanese themselves selling the food made by themselves, NOW? the stalls are all from restaurants like Azuma, even got the hummingbird Mille Crepe stall there, totally non-related to Jap one. Like you mentioned loh, a lot of local food and non-Jap related food. Perhaps it’s more for tourists then.

  4. Bee, you are right. I was not there for 2 years already thought that there will be something special, however is very disappointing over the food.

    Gill, ya you are so luckily. I was still thinking whether to go or not for the next year.

  5. Cariso, ya leh… is a very potong steam for the food bloggers like us.

    NKOTB, you should try once liao than u will know… else you will never know.

    pigpigscorner, now is not the same as high school time liao…. too commercialized dee.

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