Four years ago, when I had joined in the neighborhood bon odori [dancing] for a short time, I had been urged by some members of the neighborhood group to dance during the last 5 minutes or so. Then I learned that there were prizes, and I was surprised to be awarded with the 3rd prize, which included a carton of shoyu [soy sauce] and a pineapple. I was never quite sure what the criteria were for winning, although a lot of people dressed in costume, generally as simple as a wig or a mask, although the girl who won first place was simply wearing a pretty dress but a noticeably good dancer.
Anyway, I accepted the prizes, and a neighbor's husband graciously carried the carton of 6 large bottles of shoyu for 4 blocks to my apartment. Since one of those bottles would last me almost a year, I gave the others to friends. I later learned that the president of the company that made the shoyu is also a neighbor!
This year I was able to join in the dancing again and, in fact, since the weather was cooler than usual, danced continuously for some 45 minutes. The dance is fairly simple with movements so repetitious that I was soon doing them automatically. After dancing like that for quite some time, one can go into a kind of trance-like state, although meditative might be a better word. What I enjoyed about it the most was young and old all engaged in an activity together. I felt so connected with all the people dancing. For some reason, little kids kept joining the line in front of me (for only a short time), and that was especially delightful.
In the end, I won again! This time it was 2nd prize, a Hokkaido muskmelon. I still have no idea why I won - except that I was one of the few NJs (non-Japanese) participating.