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Maui’s Bon Dance Season Is Upon Us

What Is a Bon Dance?

Bon Dance or Obon Festival is a Japanese Buddhist custom mean to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. The custom has grown to wide spread popularity among the Hawaii population because of the deep cultural ties the Japanese planation immigrants had when they migrated to Hawaii in the early 1900’s.

While this is a Buddhist tradition, all are welcome to revel in the celebration.

Although the tradition sounds like a sad one, it is completely the opposite and is celebrated with bright colors, vibrant kimonos, booming taiko drums, and some ono grinds.

Bon Dance Fun Facts

The Yagura

When you first get to the bon dance, you’ll notice this tower like structure in the middle of the grounds. It provides the focal point for the bon dancers to dance around an it also gives the drummers a place to sit.

The Chochin

Common bon dance decor a variety of color lanterns strung around the rafters and anything that you can hang something on. They serve the important purpose of “seeking the light of Buddha” while also lighting up the dance area.

Bon Dance Clubs

Yes, there is such thing as bon dance clubs. Like any other social club, it brings together a wide variety of people with a common passion for a certain subject. The clubs practice regularly leading up to bon dance season.

Don’t Skip the Choba

While the bon dance is fun for all, they are actually very financial important to the host temples. The bon dance act as annual fundraisers and are a very important in the everyday operation of the temple. The choba booths are where you can make your donations.

The Food!

Some actually go for the dancing, but it is the ono food that draws the big crowd! Typical food finds include: shave ice, saimin, barbecued meat sticks, hot dogs, hamburgers and the hole-less Okinawan doughnuts known as andagi.

Honor the Spirits Who Have Passed On

Please do pay your respects to the spirits, it is what the whole festival is rooted in. So have a good a time and let them know you are enjoying them in your memory!

Maui Bon Dance Schedule

Summer always marks the beginning of Bon Dance season and regularly runs throughout the entire summer months until early September. It is an annual celebration, so be sure to attend at least once or wait you’ll have to wait until summer 2019 rolls around.

June 2018

  • June 9 (Sat) Puʻunēnē Nichiren Mission
    9 Ani St., service 6:30 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m. (808) 871-4831
  • June 15 (Fri) Wailuku Jodo Mission
    67 Central Ave., service 6:30 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m. (808) 244-0066
  • June 16 (Sat) Wailuku Shingon Mission
    1939 North St., service 6:30 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m. (808) 244-3800
  • June 22 (Fri)/ 23 (Sat) Kahului Jodo Mission
    325 Laʻau St., service 6:30 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m. (808) 871-4911

July 2018

  • July 7 (Sat) Lahaina Jodo Mission
    12 Ala Moana St., service and Toro Nagashi 6:30 p.m.; dance 8 p.m. (808) 661-4304
  • July 13 (Fri)/ 14 (Sat) Pāʻia Mantokuji Mission
    253 Hāna Hwy., service 6 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m. (808) 579-8051
  • July 14 (Sat) Lānaʻi Hongwanji Mission
    1364 Fraser Ave., dance 7 p.m. (808) 565-6817
  • July 20 (Fri)/ 21 (Sat) Kahului Hongwanji Mission
    291 S. Puʻunēnē Ave., service 6 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m. (808) 871-4732
  • July 27 (Fri)/ 28 (Sat) Makawao Hongwanji Mission
    1074 Makawao Ave., service July 29 (Sun) 10 a.m.; dance 7 p.m. (808) 572-7229

August 2018

  • August 3 (Fri)/ 4 (Sat) Wailuku Hongwanji Mission
    1828 Vineyard St., service 6:45 p.m.; dance 8 p.m. (808) 244-0406
    August 10 (Fri)/ 11 (Sat) Lahaina Hongwanji Mission
    551 Waineʻe St., service 6:30 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m. (808) 661-0640
    August 18 (Sat) Pāʻia Rinzai Zen Mission
    120 Alawai Rd., service 6 p.m.; dance 7 p.m. (808) 579-9921
    August 25 (Sat) Kula Shofukuji Mission
    53 Upper Kula Rd., service 6:30 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m. (808) 661-0466

September 2018

  • September 8 (Sat) Hāna Buddhist Temple
    Hāna Hwy. (20.40 mi), dance 5 p.m. (808) 248-8888

Contact Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Specialist

Please interview me to be your trusted Maui Real Estate and Lifestyle Advisor. I was born in South Maui and raised on the island, and spend a considerable amount of time to inform my clients about the best deals currently on the market. Please do not hesitate to call me for your Maui real estate needs. I am more than happy to assist you in your home search.


Anthony Sayles R(S)

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