HANAPEPE — Tammy Pu‘u was among those working their way around the yagura, roped off and illuminated by strings of lights Thursday at the West Kauai Hongwanji Mission, Hanapepe Temple.
“I had to come,” Pu‘u said. “This is my first practice. I heard they had a new dance this year so I had to come to practice so I can dance it. My sister Shelley Gerardo went to the last practice in Koloa so she could practice the new dance.”
The Rev. Tomo Hojo of the WKHM said there will be just one new dance when the Kauai Buddhist Council opens the bon dance season Friday and Saturday at the WKHM, Hanapepe Temple.
“Nippon Zenkoku Ohayashi Ondo,” a song and dance which speaks of the unique character of the different prefectures of Japan, joins the lineup of other recorded bon dance tunes, iwakuni ondo, and the special performances of the Men of the Koi Dynasty.
Hojo was pleased with the range of people who gathered in the twilight to practice.
“I am happy that we have so many people (of different ethnic backgrounds),” Hojo said. “We have attracted a lot more people since WKHM started ‘Bon Dance for Beginners’ with Mrs. Aiko Nakaya, who also taught the Men of the Koi Dynasty. She is so patient with people learning.”
When the bon season opens on Friday, WKHM will host a hatsubon service starting at 6 p.m.
“Hatsubon is the first anniversary for people who passed on between the last bon dance and this bon dance,” Hojo said. “We invite everyone to remember their loved ones during the hatsubon service. Bon is a time to remember and honor those who have passed on before us.”
The bon service is referred to as “A Gathering of Joy,” or Kangi-e, in the Hongwanji Buddhist tradition. In Jodo Shinshu Hongwanji, bon is a time of expressing gratitude, a time of reflection and acknowledging a profound sense of indebtedness to others — especially one’s predessors — and oneness with Amida Buddha.
Kapaa Hongwanji hosts practices on Mondays through July 10 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The final Lihue Hongwanji Mission practice is Friday from 7:30 to 8:45 p.m.
Koloa Jodo Mission will host its final practice from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Monday.