Before the pandemic, the Saitama Bon Odori had been held in Yono for more than 45 years. It has been greatly missed the last few years, but thankfully it is coming back in 2022. In 2022, Ryohei Kondo, artistic director of the Sai no Kuni Saitama Arts Theater, will join the dancing so they have named the 2022 event “Sai Sai Bon Odori, let’s dance with Director Kondo”! Reportedly Mr Kondo has created a new Bon Dance especially for this year’s festival.
Bon Odori is a collection of dances performed around the period of the Bon Festival, a custom of honoring deceased family and ancestors. The Obon period is celebrated around the 15th of August in most parts of Saitama. Like many of Japan’s traditional customs and festivals, the date changed when Japan moved from the lunar calendar to the Gregorian calendar. It is not a national holiday, but many companies close for a few days around the middle of August for Obon.
It has become a time when people return to their hometowns and / or spend time with families. And in a ‘normal’ year there are usually lots of local bon odori events on around August 15th. However, this year due to the pandemic, there were very few festivals or events on during the Obon period. But thankfully Saitama City will host their usual Bon Odori dance festival later this month. In Saitama City, it is always toward the end of August, not on Obon itself.
Saitama Bon Odori
You can enjoy the bon odori festival for three evenings in late August, always a Thursday, Friday and Saturday. In 2022 that will be from Thursday August 25th to Saturday August 27th. On the 26th, Director Kondo will introduce his new bon dance. On the last night, the 27th there will be a taiko drum performance too. There will also be a Yosakoi dance performance. There are normally some festival stalls in the area.
Dancing starts from around 6 pm and usually continues until about 9.30 pm. The dance moves are very easy to pick up and anyone is welcome to join in. Traditional music is played from the festival stand in the center of the dance area. You dance in a circle around the dance stand, as in the featured photo at the very top of the post. Its a great way to say goodbye to summer!
The images on this page are from the official website.
Date: Thursday August 25th, Friday August 26th, Saturday August 27th.
Time: from 6 pm (usually until around 9.30 pm).
Location: JR Kita Yono Station east exit rotary.
Access Saitama Bon Odori
The festival takes place at the JR Kita Yono station’s south exit rotary. Kita-Yono station is on the Saikyo line, just 23 minutes from Akabane station in Tokyo. There is currently no designated / official parking for this event. There maybe coin parking lots in the area, but it is advised you come by public transport.
For other seasonal events in Saitama, please see the main event category.