When I tell people that we have spent our summer going to obons, they always ask which is the best. There is no way to answer that question, but to say that they are all so different. One may have great entertainment, but so-so food. Another may have great community spirit. Another has great teriyaki chicken but lousy shaved ice. They are each special for different reasons.
After Lauren's adoption party, Maiya and I walked down the street to the Higashi Obon.
It was a hot Sunday afternoon with a warm breeze, and our only daytime obon. Many open in mid-late afternoon and peak around dinner time and during the bon odori dancing. Higashi, which has a terrific entertainment stage all weekend, started at noon and runs until nighttime. So, when we went, it was slow, mostly because it was hot and everyone was either indoors with the air conditioning, or under cover of the many easy-ups provided. So, it seemed very empty with no lines, which actually was great, since we didn't have to wait in any long lines.
My first purchase was at the Bombu and Kitsune Taiko somen booth. I was happy to support since I was part of Bombu during its first year when I took a taiko class at Higashi 5 years ago. In fact, that reminds me that I performed disasterously with Bombo at Higashi's obon back in 2003.
I have to say, and Maiya might agree, that Higashi had by far the best snow cones of all the obons we've been to. They had the widest array of flavors, including things like Kiwi and Mango. Maiya walked up and ordered the "rainbow." The girl may not know many Disney characters, but she knows how to order a snow cone. I had a blueberry raspberry and mango, and it was fantastic. When Maiya's snow cone melted into a bowl of sticky purplish-black thick gooey liquid with parking lot dust, she put the bowl up to her face, drank it up and said, "Mommy, I drink like Japanese!"
We were there for the Hawaiian dancers, having missed the preschool kids performing, by just a few minutes. Here they are doing a Maori dance, which was featured in the movie, "The Whale Rider," according to the emcee. Later, when we were on the other side of the temple at the Farmer's Market, I got the most delicious cantaloupe ever for $1. I heard June Kuramoto playing koto on the loudspeaker and thought it was a CD, but then when we went back, I realized she was live up onstage playing so beautifully. Maiya was drawn to the music and we sat down right in front on the curb.
For a 3 year old, Obon is really about the games, which I think I've mentioned before. At 50 cents a pop, they definitely had the best games, with no lines. My only complaint, again, would be the use of candy as a consolation prize when the kid doesn't win a plastic prize. Maiya did pretty well at the tic-tac-toe softball toss, so look for her on a softball field in years to come. I did pick up a pretty delicious chicken teriyaki plate for Tony on the way home. All in all, a very enjoyable time. Less enjoyable was the post-obon hot summer meltdown that occurred on our way back to the cooler westside, just prior to a mama-welcomed car seat nap.