ISLAMABAD: Bon-Odori or ‘Traditional Japanese dance’ is a ceremony which is held in Japan in the middle of summer every year. It is in fact a reminder of gratefulness one should feed towards ones’ ancestors. Japan embassy in Islamabad also celebrates the event every year.
“In Pakistan, however, the mid of summer is quite scorching therefore the traditional event is celebrated at the end of summer or start of the winter,” said an official of the Japanese embassy while talking to Pakistan Observer here on Sunday. Pakistani, Japanese and a number of diplomats from other countries gathered at the embassy to participate in the Japanese dance ceremony.
The new Ambassador of Japan Takashi Kurai and Madam Rieko Kurai were there to receive and brief the guests about the wonderful Japanese cultural and traditional ritual. There were interesting games and amusing Japanese activities to delight the guests especially the children. Paro, a robot, was the centre of the visitors’ attraction.
Paro is in fact, a therapeutic robot baby harp seal, intended to be very cute and to have a calming effect on and elicit emotional responses in patients of hospitals and nursing homes, similar to animal-assisted therapy except using robots. Children loved to caress the robotic pet and had pictures with it too.
In his brief speech Ambassador Takashi said Bon-Dori referred to a dance (odori) held during Obon season. It is a traditional Japanese dance that in a ways celebrates the presence of our ancestors in our lives, he said. The dance symbolizes receiving of spirits and sending them off again and movements of the dance are made to coordinate with lyrics, which lend the dance a unique quality of being easy to remember, so anyone can easily participate, said the ambassador.
Ambassador Takashi, his wife Madam Madam Rieko Kurai, DHM Junya Matsuura, Head of Public Affairs Katsunori Ashida and other staff of the embassy and their families all were in traditional Japanese kimono wear “Yukata” and some of them were guiding the Pakistani participants how to take steps, make movements and be a part of the entire Japanese rhythm.
“It (the dance) is quite relaxing, soothing and above all very interesting,” said Yasir a participant of the dance. Rukhsana, another participant was of the view that such occasions should take place off and on as we have glimpses of rich heritage and come to learn about cultures and civilizations of different nations. Bon-Odori also happened to be Ambassador Takashi’s introductory meeting with the Pakistani community and friends as he has recently taken charge of his office. For Pakistani guests, Wadaiko drumming was the most entertaining part of the dance performance.