I know a bit more about Japanese culture than the average American, as I have always had an interest in its culture and went so far as to make an hubristic attempt at studying the impossible language called "Japanese." I was active for several years in a now-defunct club in Atlanta called "nihon-go-wo hana-soo-kai" (The Let's Speak Japanese Club"). The club met 12 times per year, each month in a member's house. Once each year, the ladies from a local Bon Odori dance group would come to the meeting and put on a show for us.
The dance resembles the Hawaiian Hula dance and, from my understanding, every intricate move of a hand or an arm has a distinct meaning. The idea is that, it does not matter if you do not know the dance, just join in and you will learn. You will seldom see a group of people have more fun. Think "Japanese Chicken Dance." And the whole effect is made even more surreal by the array of bright colors on the yukata worn by so many at the Japan Fest, but especially the children, who are just impossibly cute.
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