LIHUE — Frecky Okada said there are many members, but only a few who dance.
“This is the height of the bon season,” said Marilyn Matsumoto, coordinator of the bon dance for the Lihue Senior Center. “But a lot of our members don’t go to bon dances because they take place at night and they don’t want to drive in the dark, or they can’t find parking spaces.”
This motivated the Lihue Senior Center to host its own bon dance, with dancers, young and old, converging at the Lihue Neighborhood Center for a morning filled with the traditional dancing and food on Tuesday.
During the time of bon, the spirits of the deceased return home to visit their families, said Gerald Hirata, president of the Hanapepe Soto Zen Temple in its bon program.
Bon, arriving in Hawaii with the Japanese laborers brought over to work in the plantations, was quickly assimilated by the community and today, it is not unusual to find the event filled with community residents gathering for a night of fellowship and reflection on life’s journey.
“This is my first time doing bon dance,” said Rosalyn Terao, savoring the plate of food. “It’s not that hard. I’m recovering from a brain surgery so for me, this is a kind of therapy.”
Okada said she called one person on the bon dance chain and the word spread, resulting in an entourage of guests from around the island bringing their talent of dance, kimono wrapping, and taiko playing to the center.
“I just called one person, and that person called another, and more people called,” Okada said. “People just know who to call.”
The bon dance calendar has two more events hosted by the Kauai Buddhist Council this weekend at the Lihue Hongwanji Mission, where food booths and activity stations open from 6 p.m. and dancing starts at 7:30 tonight and Saturday in Kapaia.
The Waimea Shingon Mission closes out the bon dance calendar, Aug. 8 and 9, with dancing at 7:30 p.m.
Following the Kauai Buddhist Council events, the Samuel Mahelona Memorial Hospital hosts its bon dance for residents and guests 6 p.m. Aug. 14.
The Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital hosts the final bon dance for this year on Aug. 15 as a fundraiser for the KVMH Auxiliary and Foundation with food and games opening at 5:30 p.m. and the bon dance starting at 6:30 p.m.
Matsumoto said the Lihue Senior Center event was so successful, she’s considering adding the final Tuesday of July as the regular date for its bon dance.