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The 16th Penang Bon Odori Festival 2012

(Penang , 21 July ) The 16th Penang Bon Odori festival was held at Esplanade. This year, Bon Odori Festival was more meaningful as Japan and Malaysia commemorate the 30th Anniversary of Look East Policy . The festival was kicked off with speeches by Chief Minister of Penang, Mr. Lim Guan Eng, State Executive Councilor of Tourism Development and Culture, Mr. Danny Law Heng Kiang and Consul-General of Japan in Penang, Mr. Tetsuro Kai. The grand opening program was the Taiko performance by the Penang Japanese School students.

Penang Japanese School students showed the beauty and power of Japanese Taikos

          This year there were three performance groups all the way from Japan. A traditional Japanese folk dance group "Iyo Minyo Kenkyu-Kai" from Ehime prefecture showed their performances with various beautiful traditional Japanese costumes. This organization is trying to popularize the traditional Japanese folk dances throughout the country. They participated in “1995 The Matsuri in Hawaii” and “Japan Festival” in the Carnegie Hall, New York in 1999.

Japanese Folk Dances performed by Iyo Minyo Kenkyu-Kai

          The next group was "DAGAYA" group from Nagoya. This group performed the ensemble of various Japanese musical instruments such as Taiko (drum), Shino-bue (flute) and Shamisen (guitar). These musicians played “Sakura Sakura” ,“Furusato” and other popular Japanese songsand demonstrated their splendid music skills. Five Taikos which were brought from Japan for their plays were later donated by DAGAYA to the newly formed Wadaiko group in Penang.

They are masters of Japanese traditional musical instruments!

          Also featured was a performance of Yosakoi dance by "Syogakubu" dance group consisting of students from Otaru University of Commerce, Hokkaido. Eleven of them were dispatched to Malaysia under the JENESYS (Japan-East Asia Network of Exchange for Students and Youths) program of the Japanese government. Student members of Perak-Malaysian Japanese Friendship Society (PMJFS) also joined the "Syogakubu" students in perthe Yosakoi dance as part of the youth exchange programme.

Group photos of Syogakubu and PMJFS members under JENESYS programme.
Syogakubu ‘s energetic and lively performance of Yosakoi dance

          There were also local performances including Sakura-Kai (Women’s group of the Penang Japanese Association), Malaysian Japanese Society members, Penang Japanese Language Society members and Konatsu cosplay group.

VIPs and Sakura-Kai members joined the Bon Odori Dance.

         So many people turned up and enjoyed not only Bon Odori dancing, but also strolling along 60 stalls selling local and Japanese delicacies, handicrafts, games, ghost house and etc. 

The crowd enjoyed themselves at the Bon Odori festival


          The main highlight of the festival was the fireworks display, sponsored by Japanese companies and the Penang Japanese Association. The Bon Odori Festival ended with Lucky draw and Karaoke session.

The breathtaking fireworks at the climax of the Bon Odori Festival
Pre-event dinner at the Consul-General's official residence

          This year, a pre-event dinner was held at the official residence of the Consul-General of Japan on the eve of the Festival to welcome the performers from Japan and others involved in the Bon Odori Festival.