Full moon shines over first bon dance

A full moon smiled down on what has become a treasured island tradition. This year’s first bon dance was held Friday and Saturday night at the Kapaa Hongwanji.

The bon dance or Obon, is a Buddhist tradition that was brought to the islands many years ago, when Japanese immigrants settled in the Hawaiian islands, bringing their culture and traditions with them.

Throughout the years, people of many cultures and backgrounds have come to respect and enjoy these annual celebrations.

During the summer months, a bon dance is hosted every weekend by each of the Buddhist temples on the island. It a time of Taiko drum beats, singing and circles of dancers wearing colorful Kimono and happi coats. There are games for the children and food booths for everyone to enjoy. It is a joyous time meant for the entire family.

Obon, as one of the most popular of the Buddhist observances known to non-Buddhists. Traditionally, and still today, is seen as an observance dedicated to the departed. However, Obon is also deeply tied with the present. As participants reminisce on their departed loved ones, they can also understand the interdependency of all life and things as is taught in the Buddhist belief. It is a time of remembrance and joy.

Year after year, dancers start practicing weeks before the season starts. Young church members start participating at an early age and are often the highlight of the evening’s dance group.

Costumes are colorful and traditional and the food booths always serve delicious fare. In all, the ambiance of the entire weekend is an experience worth enjoying. Non-Buddhists, both locally and visitors, are graciously welcome as guests.


  • June 20-21, Waimea Hongwnaji – 338-1847
  • June 27-28, Koloa Temple – 335-3195
  • July 4-5, Waimea Temple – 335-3195
  • July 11-12, Koloa Jodo Mission – 742-6735
  • July 18-19, Hanapepe Temple – 335-3195
  • July 25-26, Lihue Hongwanji – 245-6262
  • August 1-2, Waimea Mission – 338-1854
  • August 8-9, Kapaa Mission – 822-4319
  • August 15-16, Kauai Soto Zen Temple, 335-3521

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