Communal Dance and the Holy Spirit?
On Thursday, July 15, 2010 my family witnessed this Obon Festival dance just a few blocks from our apartment building in Tsukuda Jima (on the other side of our building from the post below). Festivals like these happen all over Tokyo. By the end of the month there will be two more in different areas within walking distance.
The hypnotic singing of this older gentleman continued for 2 hours straight three nights in a row. He sings and the whole neighborhood dances around him. I'm told this same dance and song, which is particular to this small neighborhood, has been going on for hundreds of years. I had no idea before this festival how particularized each festival is to the small neighborhood where it occurs.
The dance is a friendly welcoming of the spirits...the gods, people who have lived in that area in the past, and dead ancestors. Being on an island, this particular festival also prays for blessings upon dead bodies who were found by fishermen flowing down the river and those with no relatives or friends when they die.
It really made me wonder...what would a Japanese to celebrate Pentecost look like? A dance to welcome the Holy Spirit? And what about this style of music in worship? Would it be called traditional worship or contemporary worship? Obviously, neither! It would be something new and unique. It would be Japanese. It would be a renewing of Japanese culture and not a remaking of American culture (as most Japanese Christian worship is). It seems to me that this is what we need to strive for. I pray that more and more Japanese artists will become Christians and have the skill and wisdom to reach deep down into Japanese hearts to worship God. Who knows what the result will look and feel like?