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