Volunteer for Bon Odori Festival 2019!

Obon Festival on August 2nd and 3rd!

Join the Obon Festival on August 2nd and 3rd! This traditional festival celebrates the circle of life together, as done each summer in Japan for generations, and welcome everyone to join our celebration! Between serving beer and tea, making arts and crafts in the kids area, manning our gift shop and more, there's a volunteer position for everyone. 

Some stations are slower in pacing, others are fast-paced - there's a spot for every kind of volunteer!
We ask that all volunteers are flexible in moving from position to position depending on volunteer needs. 

For more information about our Obon Festival, please visit our festival page from here.

*A volunteer must be at least 14 years or older.
**We are unable to accept volunteers for the purposes of satisfying court-ordered community service.


Thank you so much for choosing to volunteer at Obon Festival! Please read below for important information and instructions!

  • Each volunteer will have a 30-minute lunch break. Refreshments will be available for all JFG Volunteers.

  • Volunteers are permitted to explore the festival during their lunch break, but will still be held accountable for returning within 30 minutes.

  • Volunteers who require letters or signatures for community service hours MUST CHECK IN & OUT AT THE VOLUNTEER HEADQUARTER AREA and stay for their entire shift to receive credit. Otherwise, we cannot verify that you completed your hours.

  • Dress appropriately! Most stations are shaded but you may be out and about in the sun occasionally and on your feet most of the day. Wear comfortable, close-toed shoes, sunscreens, and a hat! Please make sure to bring your water bottles. We will have a water refill station for JFG Volunteers.

  • Personal belongings may be stored in the volunteer check-in and rest area, but the JFG is not responsible for any theft or damage.

  • Go Green! Please support our zero waste event effort by bringing reusable utensils, container/plates, and water bottles.


All volunteers are required to sign a liability waiver AND a volunteer conduct agreement upon arrival. IF YOU ARE UNDER 18 YEARS OF AGE, A PARENT/GUARDIAN MUST SIGN THE WAIVER AND AGREEMENT DOCUMENTS AS WELL. You may find blank copies of the liability waiver and volunteer conduct agreement at this link here. Please download and bring hard copies of BOTH DOCUMENTS on the day of your shift.


If you need to cancel your shift, remove yourself from your position on Signup.com as soon as possible. Please try to commit to your shift as much as possible. We understand that emergencies and last-minute cancellations are inevitable, but this event relies heavily on its volunteers. No volunteers, no Obon Festival!


The Japanese Friendship Garden is located in Balboa Park at 2215 Pan American Rd E. The parking map below shows the southeastern corner of Balboa Park at the intersection of Park Blvd and President's Way, which is the Balboa Park entrance closest to the Japanese Friendship Garden. If you're taking the 163 South or 5 South to get the JFG, you will enter the park through this route.

The only other entrance to Balboa Park is on the west side over the Cabrillo Bridge (street name El Prado), which can be accessed via the 6th Avenue exit from the 5 North. This street will become Pan American Rd E, which connects to west end of President's Way (on the corner of the Air and Space Museum Lot).

Parking will be more limited than usual on day of the festival. 

Like our other festivals, we'd recommend carpooling or getting dropped off via Uber or friends/parents, especially if you're volunteering for the afternoon shift.

If you're parked a little farther away from the JFG than you'd care to walk, the Balboa Park Tram drops visitors off at strategic points throughout the park, including a stop right across the street from the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, which is very close to the JFG entrance. View the Balboa Park Tram website and map here.

Star - Bamboo Gate  Yellow Dots - Pathway to the Bamboo Gate  Orange - Japanese Friendship Garden

Star - Bamboo Gate

Yellow Dots - Pathway to the Bamboo Gate

Orange - Japanese Friendship Garden

Finding JFG itself - We're requesting JFG volunteers to enter through the Bamboo Gate - this is located between the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, which is a big white outdoor stage with Roman columns. You can navigate to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion with walking directions on Google Maps.

Approaching from the front of the Organ Pavilion: If you can see the Organ Pavilion stage from the front, the JFG entrance should be to your left. Do NOT try to enter through our main entrance; instead, follow the black fencing. You'll be able to see a cluster of white canopies by the Bamboo Gate, as well as a sign saying "JFG Volunteer Headquarter"; that's how you'll know you're in the right place!

Approaching from behind the Organ Pavilion: If you're behind the Organ Pavilion in the Organ Pavilion Parking Lot, walk towards the Pavilion and walk along the black fencing. Again, white canopies and a sign saying "JFG Volunteer Headquarter" should be your cue that you've arrived at the proper gate.


If you have any questions or need special accommodations, feel free to contact the Volunteer&Outreach Coordinator at volunteer@niwa.org.

Thank you for supporting your community festival at the JFG - see you at the event!