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Guide You can observe Japan through a wide view if you study the culture focusing in Bon Dancing: hundreds of years of history, folk customs, modern education in Japan, local community
Types of Bon Dancing

There are two large trends in Bon Dancing:
Traditional type of Bon Dancing, and Folk Dance type, which developped after
the WW2. There are variety of patterns in traditional type, and there is a
close relation with the local folk customs. Regarding music, there are patterns
such as; songs only, drums only, flute, shamisen,
but people dance to live performance in every pattern. Folk dance type
developped after WW2, and people usually dance to the music of folk records
played in town parks and cummunity centers.
The history of
traditional dance

It can be considered that Nembutu dancing
of Buddist line and Furyu dancing of ancient Japan got together absorbed by Bon
events and came into existence in the 15thcentury. It seems that it
had ritual factor in the beginning, but as it came down in time, entertaining
factor became larger. We can imagine that it might have been an extrimely gaudy
event since it was banned many times during Muromachi era to Meiji era.
Although there are many dances that are lasting until now without becoming

The history of folk dancing

I think there are many people who recall
folk song when they talk about Bon Dancing. This is a new folk song which made
a big hit by the composition of Shimpei Nakayama in the beginning of Showa era.
The representation is Tokyo Dancing. After WW2, Bon Dancing was reestablished
as an opportunity of local relationship event and records of new folk songs
were used. Folk songs like Kushimoto Bushi recorded by popular singer Michiya
Mihashi in Showa 30s contributed to this. Later, new songs like Doraemon Ondo
were made one after another and Bon Dancing using CDs are held all over Japan.
Local Customs

The origin of Bon is a Buddist event called
Urabonkai, but actually it has much influence from local customs of ancient
Japan, such as memorial service of the ancestors, Bon ornaments, etc. Lyrics of
old Bon Dancing tends to be rather vulgar. It might have been an occasion when
grown ups drove away their gloom by singing dirty things that you can't say at
ordinary times, youngsters used lover's tactics by songs and dances, children
enjoyed the dance innocently.

There are 3250 local governments in Japan, but
there must be few places that they don't hold Bon dancing. The biggest event is
Awa Dancing, and 1.4 million people turn out. Around 250 thousand people turn
out in Gujo Dancing and Bon of the Wind. If you add all of these, it can be
considered that around 10 million people are participating in this event each
Education, regions
Bon Dancing is used in schools when they
teach Japanese tradition. Also, Bon Dancing is planned under the auspices of
women's association and resident's association as a place of regional exchange.
The number of successors of traditional Bon Dancing tends to decrease. However,
conservartion activities are being carried out in various places under the
jurisdiction of the board of education.
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