In 2019 I went to a pan-American conference of JC communities. It was held in San Francisco, and featured a youth panel which presented discussions and topics from young delegates. We discussed virtual obon, and other ways to connect with each other over distances. An older local attendee criticized the youth representatives about the focus being on celebratory activities. He said, why are you talking about obon and festivals? Don’t you know about the history, the important things? Do you learn about that? I took the mic to answer, which was this: the youth know very well about the history, although it has been a lot of work to learn about it since trauma is often hidden from grandchildren. We know what was lost- community, togetherness, security…we hear stories about picnics and Buddhist churches, and these are things many of us no longer have, particularly those of us not located on the West Coast. We hear these stories and we want to experience that feeling too, desperately! I know for myself, being located in Alberta, I feel like JC communities are little islands adrift in an ocean of prairie. Our communities are small and shrinking, soon there won’t be anything left. So we want to celebrate the joy of a JC community while we have a chance.
Carley OkamuraView posts by Carley Okamura
I am a yonsei living in Edmonton, Alberta, which is where I grew up. I have played Japanese drums (taiko) for 20 years, and am involved with the local EJCA.