Bon Dance Season is Here!

We were fortunate enough to have received an email describing the O Bon season and schedule from Shelly (Miyazaki) Gerardo. We found the information so useful and interesting that we thought many would be interested in learning about this beautiful tradition. Thank you Shelly for sharing the information with us and our readers.

It’s that time of year again! O Bon or Bon Dance season begins next week! Yay! Definitely a favorite time of year for so many of us. If you are new to O Bon or Bon Dance, here’s more information:

The O Bon season (June – August) is a special time for the Japanese to remember their ancestors and celebrate with them through dance.  At a Bon Dance, dancers dressed in traditional attire dance to folk songs accompanied by taiko drummers.  While this is a Japanese tradition, it is open to anyone who would like to participate, no traditional attire required.  Each Bon Dance will have a choba (special folded towel) available to wear while dancing.  It is customary to provide a small donation when getting your choba either at the entrance to the ring or at another location nearby.  In typical Hawaii fashion, food and game booths are provided for further enjoyment and is a fundraiser for each temple.  Bon Dances occur every Friday and Saturday evening during the summer months from approximately 6:30 pm – 10:00 pm (dancing begins at 7:30 pm).  Limited seating is provided so it’s always a good idea to bring a mat or beach chairs and an umbrella…trust me.

At the end of the O Bon season, our ancestors leave us again during the Toro Nagashi event at Kukui’ula Bay, usually held on the Sunday after the last Bon Dance.  Toro, or paper lanterns, are released into the water after all of the candles in each lantern is lit.  Each toro represents the soul of a deceased ancestor.  I will share more information on this event at a later date but please remember to call the Koloa Jodo Mission to reserve your toro early. They often sell out before their bon dance.

The official O Bon schedule is included below.  While the dances are all the same, each bon dance is different.  It truly is a community event and I hope you are able to attend/participate.  Whether you dance or simply watch, it’s something to see and enjoy.Bon Dance Schedule 2014

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