Lihue Hongwanji Mission prepares for annual bon dance

KAPAIA — Beads of perspiration rolled off the faces of volunteers at the Lihue Hongwanji Mission Saturday morning.

“We’re lucky we have a lot of the younger members coming out to help,” said Ted Inouye, chair of the Lihue Hongwanji Mission bon dance. “I’ve been here for more than 17 years, and we’re not getting any younger so I’m happy the young people come out to help.”

Preparation for the Lihue Hongwanji Mission bon dance got underway, the familiar yagura, or central structure, for the bon dance setting the parameters for the dance ring, spectator benches marking the outer perimeter.

Bon dance for the Lihue Hongwanji Mission takes place July 19 and 20 with the bon dances starting at 7:30 each night. Ahead of the dancing, Rev. Bruce Nakamura will hold special bon services and doors to the food booth opening for dinner service.

The public is invited to join the annual celebration at the Kapaia temple, which will come alive with dancing, games, and other activities.

Inouye said there is an off-site parking in the Isenberg Tract subdivision with courtesy shuttle service.

Inside the temple, women volunteers spruced up the temple, the altar, and columbarium under the supervision of Rev. Bruce Nakamura, resident minister.

“One of the things I want to accomplish is a special bon memorial service at the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery,” Nakamura said. “These community inter-faith events at the Veterans Cemetery hail the importance of remembering and honoring our family citizen solders  and families with love, appreciation and dignity.”

The first service was held June 29, and Nakamura will lead another service Aug. 3 from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. at the Hanapepe Veterans Cemetery.

“They have a real busy schedule, too,” Nakamura said. “We need to work around that schedule.”

He said on Oahu, the Memorial Day weekend is highlighted by a Lantern Floating Ceremony hosted by the Shinnyo-En Buddhist Community.

“On Kauai, the Pure Land Buddhist communities of the Koloa Jodo and Kapaa Jodo, too, highlight their bon festivals with the toro nagashi ceremonies on the weekends of July 5 and 6, and Aug. 2 and 3 ceremonies,” Nakamura said. “The toro nagashi consists of inscribing loved ones’ names onto lanterns which are lit and taken, bound on water crafts by its volunteers. The holy prayers of Amida Buddha — namo amida butsu — sending off the rafts of lanterns.”

Nakamura said the Koloa Jodo Mission celebration evokes the spiritual coming-back and bon reunion of loved ones with family, the loved one returning to this world of existence from Amida’s Pure Land.

The Kapaa Jodo Mission celebration evokes the bon community’s honoring and spiritual devotion of family loved once and signals its return to Amida’s country of Supreme Peace and Joy.

“Every obon season celebrates this spiritual journey through ceremony and dance,” Nakamura said.

Nakamura, with the initiation of the Bon Service for Veterans, wants to encourage people to remember and honor veterans and their families by decorating graves and niches with flowers and prayers.

The Veterans Bon Memorial Service on Aug. 3 is hosted by the Hongwanji Kauai Ministers Association with cooperation and support from Lenny Rapozo and Ian Costa of the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation, the Hawaii Office of Veterans Services, the Kauai Veterans Council and the staff of the Kauai Veterans Cemetery.

Information: Nakamura at the Lihue Hongwanji community, a Shin Pure Land Buddhist community at 245-6262.

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