The San Jose Betsuin Obon Festival is this weekend, which means two wonderful days of Japanese food, taiko drumming and Obon Odori dancing in the city's historic Japantown neighborhood.
There will be plenty of entertainment, games and other activities, including the chance to meet children's book author Marissa Moss, who is scheduled to be at the festival Saturday at 1 p.m. with her book, "Barbed Wire Baseball." The book tells the story of Kenichi Zenimura, a Japanese-American baseball player who was interned during World War II, and won the California Book Award this year in the juvenile category. You can also tour the beautiful San Jose Buddhist Temple Betsuin at 640 N. Fifth St.
But the two things that cannot be missed are the food court filled with Japanese dishes, including that tasty pastry treat, imagawayaki, and the evening Obon Odori street dance. You can expect to see hundreds of people doing the line dance around Fifth Street at 7:30 p.m. Saturday night and 6 p.m. Sunday night. Many of them have been practicing, but anyone can join in.
The festival runs from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday. My advice based on past years is to wear sunscreen, hydrate and take the light rail if you can because parking can be challenging. A schedule and festival map is available at www.sjbetsuin.com/obon.
MUSICAL REWARD: It's not just our tech companies that gain national attention here in Silicon Valley. The American Harp Society named the our local chapter of harpists its chapter of the year. It's the second time in four years that the Silicon Valley chapter has gotten the honor, though last time it was shared with Seattle and this time it's a solo award.
RAFT BASKS IN THE SUN: There are a ton of great science experiment kits available to educators at Resource Area For Teachers (RAFT), but now the Silicon Valley nonprofit is taking advantage of a little science itself: Cupertino Electric has donated a 11.28 kilowatt rooftop solar system for RAFT's building.
The donation is part of Cupertino Electric's philanthropic efforts to work with local nonprofit agencies. It not only does some good for the environment, but it helps RAFT save money on energy costs -- which means more money can go back into its mission of supporting teachers and their students.