HERE ON THE BIG ISLAND – Bon Dance Season is Here
by Kelly Moran
In the Buddhist tradition, during the summer months, Japanese residents welcome back the spirits of departed loved ones at lively and festive dance events called o-bon (most in Hawaii shorten the word to bon). There are numerous o-bon dances at venues around the island of Hawaii set for this summer season between June and August.
In Japan, the summer o-bon festivals date back to more than 500 years. In Hawaii, Buddhist temples take turns hosting the festivals and these dances have become as much social affairs as religious observances.
Everyone is welcome at the Hawaiian festivals, regardless of religious background or ethnicity making the temple festivals well-attended.
What can I expect to see at an o-bon festival?
- Dances that participants can engage in (called bon-odori). These generally involve people circling and dancing around a high wooden scaffold called a yagura (wooden musicians’ tower). Flutes and gongs may accompany singers and taiko drums.
- A variety of foods for sale, including musubi (rice balls wrapped in dried seaweed), stir fried noodles, andagi (sweet fried dough), barbeque sticks, stew & rice, chirashi sushi, bentos, Spam musubis, shave ice cones and more.
- Some dressed in a yukata (summer cotton kimono) or a hapi coat.
- Plenty of colorful chockin hanging lights. O-bon translates to “lantern festival” and the lanterns are believed to light the way for ancestral spirits, who are then greeted with offerings of flowers, food and incense.
BIG ISLAND O-BON FESTIVAL SCHEDULE
Here are the upcoming festivals for this year:
• July 11, 12
Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin, 398 Kilauea Ave., Hilo, 7 p.m.
• July 12
Kona Daifukuji Soto Mission, 79-7241 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kealakekua, 7 p.m.
Kohala Jodo Mission, Hawi, 7 p.m.
Paauilo Hongwanji Mission, 43-1477 Hauola Road, Paauilo, 7 p.m.
• July 18, 19
Hilo Meishoin, 97 Olona St. Hilo, 7:30 p.m.
• July 19
Honokaa Hongwanji Mission, 45-5016 Plumeria St., Honokaa, 7 p.m.
Keei Buddhist Church & Cemetery, 83-5569 Middle Keei Road, Captain Cook, 7 p.m.
• July 26
Papaaloa Hongwanji Mission, Papaaloa, 6 p.m.
Hilo Hongwanji Mission, 457 Manono St. Hilo, 7:30 p.m.
Kona Hongwanji Mission, 81-6630 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kealakekua, 7 p.m.
• Aug. 2
Hawi Jodo Mission, Hawi, 7 p.m.
Paauilo Kongoji Mission, 43-1461 Hauola Road, Paauilo, 7 p.m.
Taishoji Soto Mission, 275 Kinoole St., Hilo, 7 p.m.
Kurtistown Jodo Mission, Iwasaki Camp Road, Kurtistown, 8 p.m.
• Aug. 9
Hamakua Jodo Mission, Honokaa, 7 p.m.
Kona Koyasan Daishiji Mission, 76-5945 A Mamalahoa Hwy, Holualoa, 7 p.m.
Hilo Higashi Hongwanji, 216 Mohouli St., Hilo, 8 p.m.
• Aug. 15
Life Care Center, 944 W Kawailani St., Hilo, 6 p.m.
• Aug. 16
Kamuela Hongwanji Mission, Church Row, Kamuela, 7 p.m.
Hakalau Jodo Mission, Hakalau, 8 p.m.
• Aug. 23
Pahoa YBA Kaikan, Pahoa, 8 p.m.
• Aug. 30
Honohina Hongwanji Mission, 32-896 Mamalahoa Hwy, Ninole, 7 p.m.
SOURCE: Tsukikage Odorikai (www.hawaiimagazine.com)