Camp Zama Bon Odori Festival

An Eclectic Summer Festival in the Boondocks of Tokyo

One of the advantages of living in Tokyo is access to the incredible food on offer. However when the time comes to indulge in some ‘authentic’ foreign cuisine heading along to a Camp Zama friendship festival is a sure bet. The main purpose of the events are to foster closer ties with the surrounding community and it does so in spades with more Miller beer and spare ribs than your local Costco store. The friendship days are organised sporadically and this year was Camp Zama’s 54th year of running the summer event. Information on upcoming festivities can be found here. Access to Camp Zama キャンプ座間 is best served by taking the Odakyu Odawara Line from either Noborito or Machida Station and getting off at Sobudaimae Station 相武台前駅. Driving as we did this year involves some creative manoeuvring in order to find a car spot within a bull’s roar of the entry gate.

The entry procedure is somewhat akin to entering a foreign country with immigration officers kindly taking you aside to verify your visa status on their laptops while the locals merely present their bags for inspection. Once inside the atmosphere is festive and welcoming with the most difficult task deciding which food stall to sample first. The first point of call was the rotisserie chicken racks which are rather a novelty in Japan. Our quarter chicken and chips were washed down with some cold ale’s followed by an Indian curry. The crowds are a little over whelming at times with the charcoal BBQ sporting the most formidable queues.

The evening festivities were focused on the manicured lawn hosting the Bon Odori dancing and fireworks which although not on par with other larger firework spectaculars was worth sticking around to check out. Best advice is to pack a picnic mat and overall it was a pleasant way to kill a Saturday evening.