2024 Oshogatsu / Kawachi Ondo performers attract audiences with its song with rhyme and Bon Odori dance at New Year’s celebration in Little Tokyo

Team Kawachi Ondo performed at New Year’s celebration at Weller Court in Little Tokyo. Photo provided by the artists.

The Japanese traditional dance performing group, Team Kawachi Ondo, performed at Little Tokyo’s Japanese New Year celebration on January 1, 2024.

Team Kawachi Ondo is the only live music group in Los Angeles specializing in “Kawachi Ondo,” which is a traditional folkdance originating in the Kawachi district of Osaka, Japan.  The music is unique, with a melody like rap music and lyrics that rhyme.

To celebrate the first day of the Year of the Dragon, besides theme song of “Kawachi Ondo,” their performance included the popular songs “Tanko Bushi” and “Uptown Funk” enabling the audience to participate.

The performers for this New Year celebration included professional musicians. They were: Maaya Ota as the emcee and the “Uptown Funk” vocalist, an internationally known professional rock singer; Noriko Yonami as the “Tanko Bushi” singer and background chorus, formerly a professional musical theatre performer; Masumi Yoneyama, a professional Japanese transverse bamboo flute player; Atsuyuki Kono, the guitarist who is a music producer and a multiple instrumentalist working with artists for TV commercials and movies; and Yui Sensational Yamamoto, as the DJ, keyboardist, producer, and composer.

Other players were Akemi Davenport on the Japanese Wadaiko drum and who was a professional surfer; Masa Endo on the cajón and who is a gospel singer; Dr. Shinichi Hirokawa as the “Kawachi Ondo” vocalist and who is an international business consultant and a professor of Business at several universities in Southern California; and lastly, Fumio Maruyama as the dance leader who is from Kawachi district in Osaka where “Kawachi Ondo’ originates.

The group performs around 10 times a year upon request, and the Team Kawachi Ondo is preparing a special folkdance evet, a 30-minute live music and song “Bon Odori” with over 100 people this summer.

In Osaka, “Kawachi Ondo” is often performed from 20 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the lyrics of the songs presented. In addition, there are many hand and step variations to the dance, and so “Kawachi Ondo” could attract “Bon Dance” fans in the U.S.

This annual New Year’s event is held on January 1 and is presented by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Southern California (JCCSC) and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Team Kawachi Ondo was formed in 2018 within the Kansai Club, Inc., a nonprofit prefectural organization with over 150 members. The group has performed at this New Year’s event in three previous years—2020, 2022, and 2023— for promoting Japanese culture to the public through the Japanese American community.

They have also performed at the Angel’s Japan Day 2019; the Taste of Japan in Phoenix, Arizona 2023; the Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California (JPASC) Charity Talent Show 2023; and other major local events.