Once again, we were delighted to celebrate O-Bon 2019 at the Playtrail on Saturday 25th May. For our celebrations on that evening, we transformed the grounds into ‘Little Tokyo’ with lanterns, bunting, dragons and lots and lots of colour!

There was so much to see and do around the site – Japanese games, Manga art, Origami, Martial Arts, some Ninjas and calligraphy to name but a few. There were also food stalls offering Japanese curry, Okonomiyaki and fabulous Kakigori shaved ice, as well as the more familiar candy floss and chips!

On the showcase stage, we had some amazing Taiko playing from our groups who practice all year round, including our young Yujo Taiko players, our beginner Ibuki Taiko group and our new Irodori Taiko group. We also had our own Ibuki Taiko adult group. This year we were honoured and delighted to welcome San Jose Taiko to the stage, with their scintillating Taiko performance. They were fantastic! They helped lead the audience in some excellent Bon Odori dancing which embodied the spirit of togetherness and joy that O-Bon holds dear.

As the darkness fell (and the Heavens opened), the evening culminated in the beautiful Toro Nagashi Lantern Ceremony, to the sounds of Taikolove.

Many thanks to the Arts Council of Northern Ireland Project Lottery Fund, Derry City and Strabane District Council and The Japan Society for supporting this event. Many thanks also to Mark Roberts and everyone at the Playtrail, all our event team, all our performers and participants, and to our audience. Here’s to 2020!

All photographs taken by the super talented Gav Connolly.

Check out the wee film of the evening made by the fab R&D Media here.