Hawaii’s summer bon dance season is under way. Here’s where to go for evening festivals.

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Bon dance season in Hawaii is now under way. The Japanese observance of o-bon — Hawaii shortens the word to "bon" — honors the spirits of family members who have passed away.

You'll find o-bon festivals slated for just about every weekend at Hawaii hongwanji missions and temples, from June through August. According to tradition, it is believed the summer months are when ancestral spirits return to visit family and friends.

If you're visiting the Islands this summer, we recommend taking part in at least one o-bon festival, especially if you have never experienced the annual Japanese Buddhist tradition in person. (The 2012 schedule for Hawaii bon dance events is on the next page.)

In Japan, the tradition of summer o-bon festivals dates back more than 500 years. Here in the Islands, the festivals serve as a ceremony of spiritual remembrance as well as a celebration of cultural heritage and community. Everyone is welcome at an o-bon festival, regardless of religious background or ethnicity. As such, each temple's festival — and there are dozens throughout summer — is often well attended.

O-bon festivals are best known for group dances known as bon-odori. The dance differs depending on the Japanese prefecture of origin, but generally involves dancers circling around a high wooden scaffold called a yagura (pictured, below) while swaying to the rhythms of folk songs and other music.Hawaii_Oahu_Maui_Big_Island_Kauai_Molokai_Lanai_bon_dance_festivals

Note to novice dancers: the dance leaders are usually in the innermost circle. Just try to follow their moves. If the moves elude you, just walk with the dancers in your circle. Beginners and children are welcome to take part in the dancing, which is intended to invite the ancestral spirits to visit family for the duration of the festival, which often continues through two evenings.

The festivals are also known for serving up delicious Japanese foods such as andagi (sweet fried dough), grilled teri-beef and -chicken skewers, musubi (rice balls wrapped in dried seaweed), and stir-fry noodles. The menu is intends to both nourish dancers and raise money for the host hongwanji. So, bring your appetite. You may want to try all of it.

Also, make sure you bring a camera to capture some memories. Want some ideas for potential photo opportunities? Before heading out to a bon dance, check out photographer Luke Takayama’s online bon dance photo gallery.

Want to learn more about bon dance season in the Islands? The July/August issue of HAWAII Magazine features a story about its spiritual and cultural origins as well as island community significance.

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Derrick Iwata, an education specialist at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, compiled the following list of Hawaii bon dance events. Among his sources: the Hawaii Herald newspaper, Honpa Hongwanji Mission of Hawaii 2012 Obon schedule, 2012 Hilo Bon Dance Club schedule, Soto Mission of Hawaii calendar, the Honolulu Star Advertiser, and Hawaii Eisa Shingyuu Kai schedule. Times and dates are subject to changes.

 

OAHU

• June 16 (Sat.): Ewa Hongwanji, 7 p.m., following 6 p.m. service (808-677-4221)

• June 22-23 (Fri. and Sat.): Wahiawa Hongwanji, 7 p.m., following 6 p.m. service (808-622-4320)

• June 29-30 (Fri. and Sat.): Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin, following 6:15 p.m. service (808-536-7044)

• July 6-7 (Fri. and Sat.): Moiliili Hongwanji, 6 p.m. (808-949-1659)

• July 6-7 (Fri./Sat): Haleiwa Jodo Mission, 8 p.m. (808-637-4382)

• July 7 (Sat.): Kanehohe Higashi Hongwanji, following 6 p.m. service (808-247-2661)

• July 13-14 (Fri./Sat.): Koboji Shingon Mission, 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (808-841-7033)

• July 13-14 (Fri./Sat.): Wahpahu Hongwanji, 7 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-677-4221)

• July 13-14 (Fri./Sat.): Haleiwa Shingon Mission,  7:30 p.m. (637-4423)

• July 13-14 (Fri./Sat.):  Rissho Kosei-kai Hawaii Kyokai, 6 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. (455-3212)

• July 20-21 (Fri./Sat.): Shinshu Kyokai Mission, 7:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. (973-0150)

• July 20-21 (Fri./Sat.): Jikoen Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, 6:30 p.m. (808-845-3422)

• July 20-21 (Fri./Sat.): Wahiawa Ryusenji Soto Mission, 7:30 p.m. (808-622-1429)

• July 21 (Sat.): Waianae Hongwanji, 7 p.m. (808-677-4221)

• July 21 (Sat.): Kailua Hongwanji, 7 p.m. (808-262-4560)

• July 27-28 (Fri./Sat.): Higashi Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin, 7 p.m. (808-531-9088)

• July 27-28 (Fri./Sat.): Pacific Beach Hotel Natsu Matsuri, 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. (808-921-6190)

• Aug. 3-4 (Fri./Sat.): Palolo Hongwanji, 7 p.m. (808-732-1491)

• Aug. 3-4 (Fri./Sat.): Manoa Koganji, 5:30 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (808-988-4905)

• Aug. 3-4 (Fri./Sat.): Waipahu Soto Zen Temple Taiyoji, 7 p.m. (808-671-3103)

• Aug. 3-4 (Fri./Sat.): Pacific Beach Hotel Natsu Matsuri, 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. (808-921-6190)

• Aug. 4 (Sat.): Wailaua Hongwaji, 7 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-637-4395)

• Aug. 4 (Sat.): Princess Kaiulani Hotel Obon Festival. For more information, click here.

• Aug. 10-11 (Fri./Sat.): Shingon Shu Hawaii, 7 p.m. following 6:30 p.m. service (808-941-5663)

• Aug. 10-11 (Fri./Sat.): Pearl City Hongwanji, 7:30 p.m. following 6:15 p.m. service (808-455-1680)

• Aug. 10-11 (Fri./Sat.): Soto Mission of Aiea-Taiheiji, 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (808-488-6794)

• Aug. 10-11 (Fri./Sat.): Pacific Beach Hotel Natsu Matsuri, 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. (808-921-6190)

• Aug. 17-18 (Fri./Sat.): Jodo Mission of Hawaii,  7:30 p.m. (808-949-3995)

• Aug. 17-18 (Fri./Sat.): Mililani Hongwanji, 7 p.m. (808-625-0925)

• Aug. 17-18 (Fri./Sat.): Soto Mission of Hawaii Shoboji, 7:30 p.m. (808-537-9409)

• Aug. 24 (Fri.): Oahu Care Facility, 6 p.m. (808-973-1900)

• Aug. 25 (Sat.): Aiea Hongwanji, 7 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-487-2626)

• Aug. 25 (Sat.) Nichiren Mission of Hawaii, 5:30 p.m. (808-595-3517)

• Aug. 25 (Sat.) Kapahulu Senior Center, 6 p.m. (808-737-1748)

• Sept. 1 (Sat.): Okinawan Festival, 5:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. (808-676-5400)

• Sept. 15 (Sat.): Autumn Okinawa Dance Festival at Hawaii Okinawa Center, 5:30 p.m. – 10 p.m. (808-676-5400)
 

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BIG ISLAND

• June 9 (Sat.): Keauhou Shopping Center (Kona Hongwanji), 6 p.m. – 10 p.m. (808-323-2993)

• June 16 (Sat.): Honomu Henjoji Mission, 7 p.m. (808-963-6308)

• June 23 (Sat.): Papaikou Hongwanji, 7 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-964-1640)

• June 30 (Sat.): Honomu Hongwaji, 7 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-963-6302)

• July 6-7 (Sat.): Puna Hongwaji, 7 p.m. following 6:30 p.m. service (808-966-9981)

• July 7 (Sat.): Kohala Hongwanji, 7 p.m. following 6:30 p.m. service (808-775-7532)

• July 13-14 (Fri./Sat.): Honpa Hongwanji Hilo Betsuin, 7 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-961-6677)

• July 14 (Sat.): Kohala Jodo Mission, 6:30 p.m. (808-889-5456)

• July 14 (Sat.): Kona Daifukuji Soto Mission, 7 p.m. – 10 p.m. (808-322-3524)

• July 14 (Sat.): Paauilo Hongwanji, 7:30 p.m. following 6:30 p.m. service (808-775-7232)

• July 20-21 (Fri./Sat.): Hilo Meisho-in, Fri. 7:30 p.m., Sat. 8 p.m. (808-935-6996)

July 21 (Sat.): Keei Hongwanji (Kona Hongwanji), 7 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-323-2993)

•July 21 (Sat.): Honokaa Hongwanji, 7:30 p.m. following 6:30 p.m. service (808-775-7232)

•July 28 (Sat.): Hilo Hooganji Mission, 7:30 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-935-8331)

•July 28 (Sat.): Kona Hongwanji, 7 p.m. following 6:30 p.m. lantern parade (808-323-2993)

•July 28 (Sat.): Papaaloa Hongwanji, 7 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-962-6340)

•Aug. 4 (Sat.): Hilo Taishoji Soto Mission, 7 p.m. (808-935-8407)

•Aug 4 (Sat.): Hawi Jodo Mission, 6:30 p.m. (808-775-0965)

•Aug 4 (Sat.): Paauilo Kongoji Mission, 7 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. (808-776-1474)

•Aug. 4 (Sat): Kurtistown Jodo Mission, 8 p.m. following 7 p.m. service (808-966-9777)

•Aug 11 (Sat.): Hamakua Jodo Mission, 6:30 p.m. (808-889-5456)

•Aug 11 (Sat.): Kona Koyasan Daishiji Mission, 7 p.m. (808-324-1741)

•Aug 17 (Sat.) Hilo Higashi Hongwanji, 8 p.m. following 7 p.m. Service (808-935-8968)

•Aug 18 (Sat.): Hakalau Jodo Mission, 8 p.m. following 7 p.m. service (808-966-9777)

•Aug 25 (Sat.): Honohina Hongwanji, 7 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-963-6032)

•Aug 25 (Sat.): Puna Hongwanji Pahoa Shibu, following 7 p.m. service (808-966-9981)
 

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KAUAI

• July 8-9 (Fri./Sat.): Kapaa Hongwanji Buddhist Temple, 7:30 p.m. (808-822-4667)

• June 15-16 (Fri./Sat.): Waimea Higashi Hongwanji, following 6:30 p.m. (808-338-1847)

• June 22-23 (Fri./Sat.): Kauai Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji, 7 p.m. (808-335-3521)

• June 29-30 (Fri./Sat.): Koloa Jodo Mission, 7:30 p.m. (808-742-6735)

• July 13-14 (Fri./Sat.) West Kauai Hongwanji Hanapepe Temple, 7:30 p.m. (808-338-1537)

• July 20-21 (Fri./Sat.): Lihue Hongwanji, 7:30 p.m. (808-245-6262)

• July 27-28 (Fri./Sat.): Waimea Shingon Mission, following 7 p.m. service (808-388-1854

• Aug. 3-4 (Fri./Sat.): Kapaa Jodo Mission, 7:30 p.m. (808-822-4319)

• Aug. 10-11 (Fri./Sat.): West Kauai Hongwanji Waimea Temple, 7:30 p.m. (808-338-1537)

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MAUI, LANAI & MOLOKAI

• June 9 (Sat.): Punnene Nichiren Mission, 8 p.m. following 7 p.m. service (808-871-4831)

• June 15 (Fri.) Wailuku Jodo Mission, 8 p.m. following 7 p.m. service (808-244-0066)

• June 16 (Sat.): Wailuku Shingon Mission, 7:30 p.m. following 6:30 p.m. service (808-242-5618)

• June 22-23 (Fri./Sat.): Lahaina Hongwanji, 7:30 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-661-0640)

• July 7 (Sat.): Lahaina Jodo Mission, 8 p.m. following 6:30 p.m. service, toro nagashi at 7:30 p.m. (808-661-4304)

• July 13-14 (Fri./Sat.): Paia Mantokuji Soto Mission, 8 p.m. (808-579- 8051)

• July 14 (Sat.): Lanai Hongwanji, 6 p.m. (808-565-6151)

• July 20-21 (Fri./Sat): Kahului Hongwanji, 8 p.m. following 7 p.m. service (808-871-4732)

• July 27-28 (Fri./Sat.): Makawao Hongwanji, 7:30 p.m. following 6:30 p.m. service (808-572-7229)

• July 28 (Sat.): Guzeiji Soto Mission of Molokai, 6:30 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-537-9409)
• Aug. 4 (Sat.): Kahului Jodo Mission, following 7 p.m. service (808-244-0066)

• Aug. 10-11 (Fri./Sat.): Wailuku Hongwanji, 8 p.m. following 7 p.m. service (808-244-0406)

• Aug 18 (Sat.): Paia Rinzai Zen Mission, 7 p.m. following 6 p.m. service (808-579-9921)

• Aug. 25 (Sat.): Kula Shingon Mission, 7:30 p.m. following 6:30 p.m. service (808-661-0466)

 

Photos: Luke Takayama

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