PUHI — Pam Arroyo, head of the Regency at Puakea, welcomed family, friends and guests to the second bon dance for residents of the retirement and assisted living facility in Puhi on Friday evening.
Alton Miyamoto of the West Kauai Hongwanji Mission coordinated an effort to teach residents some of the ondo, or dances, from the popular community event coordinated through the Kauai Buddhist Council.
Traditionally, the Buddhist Council does not host a bon dance at a Buddhist temple during the July 4th weekend. This gave Miyamoto and the West Kauai Hongwanji Mission a chance to offer a bon dance for the residents at the Regency.
Regency staffers Randy Peters coordinated the decorating of the turnaround area and designated pet area which was transformed into a bon dance arena using lanterns borrowed from the West Kauai Hongwanji Mission. Regency Executive Chef Bri Borrero created bon dance snacks for all the dancers and residents, including mochi and a mini manapua.
O-bon is a Japanese custom steeped in Buddhism. It is believed that during bon, spirits of the departed ancestors return to earth and humans celebrate and remember their ancestors. Although the subject is death, it is a time to rejoice, said Rev. Tomo Hojo of the West Kauai Hongwanji Mission.
“Rejoice,” Hojo said during the short service preceding the merriment. “Dance with joy and gratitude. Dance with your heart and mind for those in the past who allow us life.”
Miyamoto also got the help of Aiko Nakaya, well-known sensei, or teacher, of Japanese dance, and her dance group as well as Rev. Kodoku Hirao of the Waimea Shingon Mission who doubled as the iwakuni ondo singer, a taiko player, and even one of the performers for the Men of the Koi Dynasty.
“We want men to dance,” Miyamoto said. “Anyone who is interested can come see us at the bon dances.”
The next bon dance will be at the Kapaa Hongwanji Mission Friday and Saturday evenings. Bon odori, or dancing, starts at 7:30 p.m.