Obon Season: To Honor and Remember

June 25, 2012, 7:54 PM HST
* Updated September 8, 7:18 PM
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Last week, the first obon dance of the season on the Big Island was held at the Papaikou Hongwanji Mission.

This year, 13 Buddhist temples island-wide will participate in this seasonal event. On Saturday June 30, the Honomu Hongwanji Mission will host the evening service at 6 p.m. and Obon dance from 7 p.m.

This yearly celebration of departed loved ones is a Japanese custom where ancestors are remembered. This Buddhist tradition seeks to welcome spirits of the dead with dance, as people celebrate and honor their ancestors.

Taiko drum, photo by Elijah van der Giessen

This joyful remembrance calls for dancing and music. The Bon dance is a style of folk dancing that has many variations and folk songs.

Dance movements and song themes tell the story of the region in which the dance and/or song originated.


Circles of dancers form with the inner circle usually comprised of more experienced dancers.


The taiko drum is used to keep the beat during dancing while other traditional instruments add beautiful melodies. Attendees may choose to wear traditional garb such as yukata or light kimonos.

The Honomu Hongwanji Mission is located at 28-1658 Government Road in Honomu. For more information call 808-963-6032.

Grave visit, photo by Kristin Hashimoto

The next Obon Dance will be held at the Puna Hongwanji Mission on July 6 and July 7 at 7:30 p.m. The Bon service begins at 6:30 p.m. The Kohala Hongwanji Mission will also have a dance on July 7 at 7 p.m, with the service beginning at 6 p.m.


For a full schedule of Obon dances visit

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