San Jose Obon Festival

Play button showing taiko drummers

Traditional dance, music, food and games create a rich cultural experience at the 73rd annual version of this free outdoor festival presented by the San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin. In this episode you’ll learn how traditional Japanese drums inspire today’s performers; discover the basics of Buddhism; find out how ancient storytelling techniques have been given a modern twist; and understand what it takes to put on a large community festival. The finale features hundreds of people in traditional kimonos or happi coats dancing in the street.

Please note: Since this episode was produced some of the links mentioned have stopped working. Here is a list of working links: San Jose Taiko Conservatory Storycard Theater® books San Jose Buddhist Church Betsuin San Jose Oban Festival

If you do not have time to watch the entire episode in one sitting, here are links to individual chapters:

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(Footage for this episode was recorded July 15, 2007. The program was edited then uploaded to on January 5, 2008.)