Bon-odori simply means "bon dance" in Japanese. In the old days, bon-odori was a festival to respect and welcome back the departed spirits of ancestors.
Today however, bon-odori has evolved to be more of a summer dancing festival, marked by merry-making and dancing outdoors under the warm summer sky to the tune of traditional music and the beat of Japanese drums (taiko).
During bon-odori the Japanese will go out dressed in their yukata, i.e. the traditional summer kimono. The festival site shall be decorated with coloured lanterns, dancing stage and so on. Stalls selling all kinds of food from roasted corn to yakitori are set up. Everybody will be in a carnival mood.
In Malaysia, bon-odori is celebrated on a fairly large scale in Penang and Shah Alam. The celebration in Shah Alam is held at the Matsushita Sports Complex. It is usually very well attended by Japanese expatriates, as well as, many hungry Malaysians out to get themselves stuffed with Japanese food and drinks.
I have been to the Matsushita bon-odori twice with my family. For us, its a great opportunity to titillate our taste buds with Japanese food such as sushi, Japanese curry rice and some peculiar and exotic-sounding drinks like the Pocari Sweat!!
According to the Japan Embassy website this year's bon-odori in Shah Alam will be held on 14 July 2007. So, see ya' there!