Around 1937, when the Sino-Japanese War began, the proportion of wartime and military songs increased, and Bon dances were affected by these songs. Ondo (songs) for (chants of national pride) are performed, and consolatory visits are also held. During the war, the performance of Bon Dancing was suppressed. After the war, until 1952, Japan was under the rule of GHQ, and Bon Dancing resumed during this period.

This period

After the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War, censorship and other restrictions were tightened, and some music was banned. (For example, Noriko Awaya’s “Farewell Blues” was banned on the grounds that it was sentimental, did not inspire the people, and was not in keeping with the times.) Then, in 1941, the Pacific War broke out and restrictions became increasingly severe, including a ban on hostile language. As the war situation worsened, a series of air raids were carried out across the country from 1944 to 1945, and the war came to an end on August 15, 1945.
While suffering from starvation and other problems under the rule of the Allied Powers, the banned culture was gradually liberated, while prewar education such as Shushin (moral training) and history were denied. The country then achieved re-establishment of independence through the promulgation of the Constitution of Japan and the San Francisco Peace Treaty.
1937-45: Sino-Japanese War
1941-45: The Pacific War
August 15, 1945: Acceptance of the Potsdam Declaration
1945-1952: GHQ takes over
May 3, 1947: Japanese Constitution enacted
1952 San Francisco Peace Treaty

Basic Information

Population: Approx. 80 million Decrease due to war, increase due to return from overseas
Attribute type: women’s suffrage in postwar democratization
Life expectancy: about 50 years
Famine and disaster conditions: Damage due to war. Food shortages
Media of transmission: Written media, radio
Territorial system: Individuals, landowners holding land
Clothing of the common people: National dress, simple clothing
Food of the common people:Period of poverty, cereal rice, potatoes, etc.
Dwelling of the common people: Wooden Japanese houses, large families
Entertainment opportunities for the common people: Controlled during the war, gradually liberated after the war. Poverty limited entertainment opportunities.

Bon Odori: Events of the time

World War II: Life-or-death crisis

Bon dance incorporated into the wartime regime
Use for national prestige

Since the Sino-Japanese War of 1937, censorship has been tightened and the number of works with a strong wartime/military flavor has increased.

Gujo Dance: Conducting consolations for troops and factories

Military-related heroic tales are sung as stories
The Three Braves of the Bullet
The Sixth Submarine, etc.

Ondo and Bon Odori in wartime songs

Reference: From the CD “Minna wa ni nare gunkoku ondo no sekai

1939: Senjo Bon Dancing, Gunkoku Bon Dancing (released by Polydor)
1940 Kenkoku Ondo (Victor)
1941 Sangoku Ondo: Celebrating the Tripartite Pact of Japan, Germany and Italy
1943 – Zosan Ondo, Kessen Bon Odori (Bon dance)

1941-1945: Wartime results of the Pacific War

Prohibition of amusement. They stopped dancing Bon dances amid the stream of the times

Loss of young people who were the bearers of festivals
2.3 million military-related war dead from the Sino-Japanese War to the Pacific War, including 800,000 civilians

Among them, the festival is allowed to be held on a limited basis in the sense that it is a requiem for the dead of the Bon Season

Gujo Odori Dance

Allowed to be held only on August 15 and also on the day the war ended.

Niino Bon Dance

Held during and after the war

“Local Dancing and Bon Dancing,” by Yukichi Kodera, 1941

Yukichi Kodera.
For the first time, he conducted a comprehensive study of Bon Dancing and compiled it into a book. Published in 1941, during the Sino-Japanese War and on the eve of the Pacific War.

Kodera Ryukichi Bon Dance and Local Dance (Collection of the Shonan Bon Dance Study Group)


Minyo Collection

The collection of min’yo (folk song) by Kasho Machida continued even under wartime conditions until 1944, and on July 20, 1944, “Nihon min’yo taikan(Grand view on folk song) , Kanto version” was published.
However, due to wartime illness, Shimizu Fujii and Yukichi Kodera, who had been involved in the editing process, died.


End of the War and Bon Dancing

With the end of the war, there was an immediate revival of Bon Dancing in many places. 1946 – 1948: Many groups were born in Awa.
After the rule of GHQ, Bon Dancing was liberated.


Bon Dancing in the Tokyo area under GHQ rule in 1946

From the Photo Encyclopedia: History of the Occupation of Japan

Mid summer Mass Dance Party in appreciation of General MacArthur’s sincere Aid for Japan’s Food Crisis
A banner reading “Mid summer Mass Dance Party in appreciation of General MacArthur’s sincere aid for Japan’s Food Crisis” was hung on the tower. And many people are enjoying the dance.
(This is said to be July 19, 1946, in the suburbs of Tokyo.

1947: Events begin to resume in earnest

The New Year’s Ceremony in the plaza in front of the Imperial Palace, a concert of Japanese musical instruments at the Kyoritsu Auditorium, a beauty contest, etc.

1948: Tankobushi recordings

A record of Tankobushi sung by Koume Akasaka was released. It became popular nationwide.

Minyo sampling

Minyo-kyoku collection by Keiko Machida resumed in 1948.

National folk song contest in 1949 → Local folk song boom

Local folk songs and Bon dances were created for town revitalization and postwar reconstruction.

The 1st Kohaku Uta Gassen in 1951

Koume Akasaka sang Miike Tankobushi and Masao Suzuki sang Tokiwa Tankobushi among the 14 contestant singers