"Kaze no Bon" (An Autumn Festival in Toyama)

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Sep 3, 2012 00:58 風の盆 恋歌 石川さゆり Bon dance festival おわら
The famous Bon dance (a Japanese summer dance festival) called "Owara Kaze no Bon" is held at Yatsuo in Toyama City for 3 days and nights from September 1st every year.

The dance is more elegant and melancholy but less lively than such Bon dances as Awa-Odori and Yosakoi-Bushi in Shikoku Island.

The music became more plaintive after Chimese fiddles were introduced into the accompanying ensemble during the Meiji period.

About 300 thousand people a year visit the festival in Yatsuo which has a population of no more than 20 thousand.





The festival was a little obscure before, but has become more popular since the song titled "Kaze no Bon Koi Uta," became a big hit.

The song deals with adultery and a love suicide during the festival.

Some people have a miscomprehension that the festival is concerned with the love suicide.



A writer, Osamu Takahashi, always loved the festival, and then wrote the novel titled, "Kaze no Bon Koi Uta," in 1985.

Here is the synopsis:

A couple in their fifties reunited 25 years after they had broken up due to a misunderstanding.
They had their own families, but lived close together in a hideaway only for the 3 days and nights of the festival every year.
However, the woman's daughter found out about their adultry.
Just before she arrived at the hideaway on September 1st, her daughter told the man the lie that she was dead.
Also partly because he was diagnosed as having a fatal disease, he was so shocked that he killed himself.
She arrived and found his body and then she also committed suicide.


The story was very sad for me, but it seemed like the tale of a middle aged Romeo and Juliet, so the young people took no notice.

However, the lyricist, Rei Nakanishi, was so inspired by the novel that he wrote the beautiful words to the song.

Sayuri Ishikawa, who is one of our greatest singers, gave a passionate performance of the song.

The song became a huge hit in 1989, won the Japan Lyrics Award and then was performed as the finale on the popular national program, "NHK Kohaku Utagassen."





A word "Sui Fuyo" appears in the first verse.

This means literally that a rose gets drunk.

It is a Japanese form of the Confederate rose (the cotton rosemallow).

The flower comes out in white in the morning, turning pink during noon, red in the evening and withers or falls the next morning.

The word denotes the brevity of life.

The word "Ayu" is heard in the second verse.

Ayu is a freshwater fish that makes a habit of jumping up from the river.

It implies the moment of the woman's ecstasy.

Both of these words also appeared at the important point in the novel.



A Bon festival generally means a Buddhist festival to welcome ancestral spirits in mid-summer.

However, a friend of mine from Toyama taught me that "Owara Kaze no Bon" is an agricultural ritual that calmed down the anger of the wind gods, such as typhoons in September, so the festival is never connected with the song.