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Maui Bon Dance Season Is Back!

After a two year hiatus, the Maui community is excited to have Bon Dance season back just in time for summer 2022! Kicking off in the first week of June, this will be the first Obon Festival since 2019 as the 2020 and 2021 festival seasons were halted for obvious reasons.

Throughout the two year hiatus, the Maui Minyo Kai community celebrated Bon Dance season virtually with “Zoomdori” hosted via Zoom and other various social media platforms. Not only did it attract hundreds of local viewers, but it also gained the attention from around the world.

Cautiously optimistic, Maui’s beloved summertime tradition is slated for a three month long celebration with various temples across the Valley Isle each hosting an Obon festival on either a Friday or Saturday night (full schedule further below).

What Is a Bon Dance?

Bon Dance or Obon Festival is a Japanese Buddhist custom mean to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors. While this is a Buddhist tradition, all are welcome to revel in the celebration. 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.

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.

Obon festival in Japan typically lasts for three days in the month of August. However, in Hawaiʻi, the Obon season starts in June and lasts until early September.

Bon Dance Fun Facts

The Yagura

When you first get to the bon dance, you’ll notice a tower like structure in the middle of the grounds. It provides the focal point for the bon dancers to dance around and it also houses the taiko drummers.

The Chochin

A variety of color lanterns strung around the rafters are common bon dance decor. They serve the important purpose of “seeking the light of Buddha” while also lighting up the dance area.

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 financially 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 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 next summer.

June 4 (Sat) Lahaina Shingon Mission
682 Luakini St., service 6:30 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m.

June 11 (Sat) Puʻunēnē Nichiren Mission
9 Ani St., service 6 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m.

June 17 (Fri) Wailuku Jodo Mission
67 Central Ave., service 6 p.m.; dance 7 p.m.

June 18 (Sat) Wailuku Shingon Mission
1939 North St., service 6:30 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m.

June 25 (Sat) Kahului Jodo Mission
325 Laʻau St., service 6:30 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m.

*July 2 (Sat) Lahaina Jodo Mission
12 Ala Moana St., service only 6:30 p.m.; *no dance

*July 9 (Sat) Pāʻia Mantokuji Soto Zen Mission
281 Hana Highway, service only 6 p.m.; *no dance

July 15 (Fri)/ 16 (Sat) Kahului Hongwanji Mission
291 S. Puʻunēnē Ave., service 6 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m.

July 22 (Fri)/ 23 (Sat) Makawao Hongwanji Mission
1074 Makawao Ave., service 6 p.m.; dance 7 p.m.

August 5 (Fri)/ 6 (Sat) Wailuku Hongwanji Mission
1828 Vineyard St., service 6:45 p.m.; dance 8 p.m.

August 12 (Fri)/ 13 (Sat) Lahaina Hongwanji Mission
551 Waineʻe St., service 6 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m.

*August 20 (Sat) Pāʻia Rinzai Zen Mission
120 Alawai Road, service 6 p.m.; dance 7 p.m.

August 27 (Sat) Kula Shofukuji Mission
53 Upper Kula Road, service 6:30 p.m.; dance 7:30 p.m.

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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