Many years ago, I heard from Japanese friends that there was a O-Bon Matsuri in Salt Lake City* every summer. In 2005, I finally found out when it was being held and planned to take my family. I pictured street vendors selling yakisoba and taiyaki, and everyone coming out in their festive yukata, like at the festivals in Japan. I made yukata for Jane and Zuzu to wear and was excited for them to experience a taste of Japanese culture.
What we found when we got there were a few sparsely attended booths advertising various products and companies. If you were hungry, there was a stand selling overpriced burgers and fries. The only people we saw dressed up besides my girls were the performers on the little stage that was set up between the booths. We did get to see a little bon odori performance, and if we'd come at the right time, we could have caught some taiko, but perhaps you've picked up by now that it was, on the whole, a disappointment. We walked through the exhibit on World War II Japanese Internment Camps inside the Buddhist temple, then drove back to Utah Valley for some dinner at a Japanese restaurant.
And the girls' outfits got put to good use again when Halloween rolled around.
"OK, give me your most natural smile."
"Let's try again."
Hey, at least they're both looking at the camera at the same time. That's a small miracle.
*Apparently there was a small but thriving Japantown in Salt Lake City, starting from the turn of the 20th century and up until the Salt Palace was built in 1967 on the land where it had been. Now Salt Lake's Japantown has dwindled to one small stretch of 100 South, where the Salt Lake Buddhist Temple and the Salt Lake Japanese Church of Christ are located.