Experiencing new foods, cultures, events and festivities has always been a highlight of traveling for me when traveling. I love getting immersed in the new environment whether it is trying new foods, checking out local markets, or enjoying the local festivals.
One festival that I have had the chance of attending was the San Jose Obon Festival in July 2019. Personally, I have never been to a festival like this before as I am not that involved with the other communities back home in Utah. Something I have been to similar to the Obon festival would be for Vietnamese holidays such as the Moon or Tet Festival. Obon (also called Bon) is a way to honor the spirits of people’s ancestors. This religious and cultural tradition has over time become more of a family reunion holiday where families visit and clean their ancestors' graves.
The festival was full of activities, performances, and food from the Japanese culture. Dishes such as sushi, teriyaki, and tempura were being served at food vendors at the festival. The lines for popular items such as Teriyaki meats and Japanese style Grilled corn were so long the lines went outside beyond the food court! I was only able to try some Gyozas and the Nigiri Sushi. They still tasted good and authentic. The games offered were more geared towards younger kids but anyone could enjoy the carnival games they had there. The performances were a big highlight of this event too! Both musical and dance groups had Japanese style performances such as Taiko drums performed by San Jose Taiko or traditional sounding Japanese music.
Going to this festival as a Vietnamese American was an interesting experience for me. Watching the musical and dance performances was exciting because it was a new experience for me. I was able to listen to a Japanese band called the Chidori Band which played more traditional Japanese music. Before this event, the only Japanese music I was exposed to was more of the country’s pop music and genre.
Another thing that was surprising to me was the diversity of attendees. There were people from different cultures and backgrounds celebrating and enjoying this Japanese festival. Seeing people from different walks of life getting excited over another culture is nice! It shows that people, no matter what their background is can enjoy and celebrate other cultures.
Attending this festival has left an indelible impact on me and I will definitely be on the look out for other events such as this one back in Utah.
Photos by: Alex Q. Nguyen
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Alex Q. Nguyen - Riverton, UT
Alex is currently attending the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. He is majoring in Film and Media Arts however, he is still exploring the film industry to discover something he likes. His hobbies include photography, guitar, videogames, hiking, and he is still working on his videography skills.
Follow Alex on Instagram @alex._.nguyen