Central Valley summer festivals


Marysville Buddhist Church

The Marysville Buddhist Church’s summer highlight is its Obon festival.

According to the Marysville Buddhist Church’s Website, the church was officially established on April 1, 1908.

However, since then, its congregation, and attendance for the church’s summer events, have also decreased. According to part-time church Secretary Joyce Nakatsu, “One hundred-something” people participate in the Bon Odori. She said the church’s small attendance prevents it from holding a bazaar during the summer.

“We don’t have the population here to (have a bazaar),” she said.

Now, the church sells teriyaki chicken box dinners and has a taiko group performance during intermission. According to Nakatsu, the taiko group came to the church about 15 years ago.

The Marysville Buddhist Church will hold its Obon festival on Saturday, July 21 at 125 B St. in Marysville, Calif. The church will begin selling food at 3 p.m. and the Obon service will start at 4 p.m. The Bon Odori will officially start at 7:30 p.m. (530-743-6426, marysvillebc.org)

Buddhist Church of Florin

Among the summer festivities at the churches, the Buddhist Church of Florin’s Obon and bazaar is unique in that it provides an Obon workshop for members of the Japanese American community who are unfamiliar with the Buddhist tradition.

According to Judie Miyao, secretary of the board and chair of the Buddhist Woman’s Association (BWA), the Florin Buddhist Church hosts an Obon workshop, which Cheryl Miles conducts every Tuesday before its Obon and bazaar for the Florin Japanese American Citizens League (JACL). At this workshop, Miles demonstrates how to put on the yukata and obi, etc., and explains how to use the sensu, kachi-kachi, uchiwa and other implements used during Bon Odori.

“So that’s how the JACL members, who never really been involved with Obon, (get) some information and then they all come to the Obon dance,” Miyao said.

The Buddhist Church of Florin used to have its Obon and bazaar festival combination on two days until about five years ago, according to Miyao and Myrna Hitomi, the church’s activities chair. Miyao and Hitomi said their festival was reduced to one day because it was too much work to cook both days and get ready for Obon by Sunday evening.

“So then we split it up and it got kinda small after that,” Miyao said.

While about 300 dancers attend its Bon Odori, Miyao said she hopes to go back to having their bazaar on two days to encourage more people to attend it.

One of the must-eat food items featured at the bazaar is the church’s teriyaki chicken and rice plate, which Miyao says is “the best teriyaki chicken in town!”

The Buddhist Church of Florin will have its Obon and bazaar on Saturday, July 21 at 7235 Pritchard Road in Sacramento. The Obon service will start at 3 p.m. The bazaar will run between the service and Obon, which starts at 7:30 p.m. (916-383-1831, www.florinbuddhist.org)

Tenrikyo Sacramento Church

The Tenrikyo Sacramento Church will have its annual food bazaar on Sunday, Sept. 23 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 6351 25th St. in Sacramento.

The bazaar will take place both inside the church in front of the shrine and outside. It will feature sushi, inari, udon, chow mein, chicken teriyaki, chirashi and ohagi, the latter of which the church is most famous for, according to Yuri Kojima, the wife of the church’s former reverend and the mother of its current reverend, Brian Kojima. (916-422-6585)

Stockton Buddhist Temple

Although the Bon Odori is a Japanese cultural demonstration in itself, the Stockton Buddhist Temple features other Japanese cultural displays at their bazaar that many Buddhist churches do not have.

According to the Rev. Yukiko Motoyoshi, the Stockton Buddhist Temple features cultural traditions, including flower arrangement and tea ceremony, which allow for audience participation. The bazaar also features sushi, chicken teriyaki, tempura, kushiyaki and grilled oyster.

Motoyoshi said her favorite part of both the Obon and the bazaar is how interactive the events are among its attendees.

“It’s not only for the Japanese community, but I think anyone can come in and have a very enjoyable morning to afternoon and at the same time it will teach you (about) the Japanese heritage,” she said.

The Stockton Buddhist Temple will hold its Obon on Saturday, July 21 at 7 p.m. The bazaar will be on Saturday, July 28 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, July 29 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at 2820 Shimizu Drive in Stockton (209-466-6701, www.stocktonbuddhisttemple.org).

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