Bon Odori at Publika
Bon Festival is celebrated yearly in the height of summer in Japan. It has a Buddhist background to it, but over the years, it was more of a cultural celebration amongst the Japanese expats abroad. It is not only exclusive to Malaysia, but it is also celebrated in South America as well as they have a large Japanese population there.
In Malaysia, a large gathering takes place in July to celebrate the event, with the dance - the Bon Odori - being the highlight. Stadium Shah Alam hosts the largest gathering every year with celebration going into the late evening. There were also smaller events in Penang and Sabah.
Publika had a mini-celebration of their own, usually later in the season. This year, it was the eighth year running and was gloriously celebrated by the local Japanese expats as well as locals who loved Japanese culture. The Buddhist elements have largely been diluted out. It was mainly celebrating friendship and food, as well as the dance, of course. At Publika, it involved a parade around the shopping mall before taking to the stage with traditional dances and celebrations.
It was strongly supported by the local Japanese Tourism Board and local schools. I could really see some of the locals were really into it. There were a dozen stalls selling Japanese clothes and food. Anita sampled some okonomiyaki - a pizza - and imagawayaki - pastry with chocolate innards. They were big hits.
The dances came a bit later, and since it was hazy, we decided to head indoors and have an early dinner. There was supposed to be a firework display, but the organiser had to cancel that due to the weather. Despite that, it seemed to be a great event, and the central plaza was full right until the end.