By Jacob Balatico
Mililani High School’s Japanese students have been celebrating with dancing. For the past three years, they have been learning and teaching different Obon dances to each other in order to get more in touch with Japanese culture.
“For the (Japanese) students, learning the dances is part of their culture capsule,” Japanese teacher Corey Zukeran stated.
Students in all levels of Japanese are given this assignment. “Because we believe in culture, they need to write a reflection on how the Bon dance relates to other cultural events. (The related event) doesn’t have to be Japanese,” Zukeran said. The school Obon dance is required to learn.
During the first few weeks of school, the upper level Japanese students are given the chance to select the dances that are to be taught. “We normally teach it to try and coincide our school Obon dance with the Mililani Obon dance,” Zukeran stated. This is so the students can learn the dance at school and then go to the Mililani Obon dance to participate with the entire Mililani community.
Not all students are able to teach the Obon dances however. Zukeran stated, “The upper level students in Japanese 3 and above (are the ones who) break in to small groups in class and pick which dance they want to teach.” Among these students are Juniors Micah Talamoa and Lindsey Cambra. Talamoa was part of the group that taught the “Tanko Bushi” dance while Cambra was among the students who taught the “Sakura Ondo” dance.
For these two students, Obon dancing is more than just any other assignment. “Teaching the (dances) to others is not only to just have fun, but to teach others about Japanese culture through fun ways. I’m always happy to contribute through teaching Bon dances to others because learning about special Japanese festivities is a creative way to get other people excited about Japanese culture,” Talamoa stated. Cambra said, “What it meant to me to teach was everything because for the past two years I would be the one to learn from others and this year I finally got to teach the underclassmen. I was happy that I was able to contribute because I got to teach people the culture of Japan.”
Many students who attend the annual Mililani Obon Dance after being exposed to the cultural activity, continue to go to enjoy the time dancing and celebrating with friends and family.