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Its Bon Dance Season in Hawaii

Note: This post is from June 2011, however, while specific dates are obviously incorrect, the remainder of the information is fine.  You will also find a link to this year, 2012’s, bon dance schedule at the bottom of this post.

Summer is Bon Dance Season

Between this weekend and the end of summer,  Bon Dance season is underway and you will find a  festival just about every weekend at hongwanji missions and temples throughout the state.  Japanese tradition is that the summer months are when ancestral spirits return to visit family and friends.  The Japanese custom of o-bon — shortened in Hawaii to bon —honors the spirits of family members who have passed away.  You might even remember scenes from such a celebration from the movie, Karate Kid II.

In Japan, the tradition of summer bon festivals dates back more than 500 years.  Here in the Islands, the festivals serve as both a ceremony of spiritual remembrance and a celebration of cultural heritage and community.  Everyone is welcome at an bon dance, regardless of religious background or ethnicity. As such, each temple’s festival is often well-attended by people of all ethnic and religious backgrounds.

State-Wide Bon Dance Schedule

To give you some idea of the popularity of this age old tradition, there are 30 bon festivals on Oahu alone, beginning  last Saturday and ending on September 17th.  The Big Island has 25 scheduled with the last being on August 27th.  Kauai only has six more, not counting the opening festival held last weekend.  And, between Maui, Lanai, and Molokai, 11 more, not counting the two held last weekend.

Hawaii Magazine published the state-wide schedule last week.   Included are the dates, location, and contact phone numbers for more information.  If you’ve never been to an bon dance before, see if there’s one being held near you and check it out…the food alone is worth going for.   (I admit, I’ve been to several and have never danced, which tells you what I go for…love saimin and a teriyaki stick!.)

UPDATE: Here is the 2012 state-wide bon dance schedule as published in Hawaii magazine.

Fare Buzz

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