Make Kauai Bon Dance your summer tradition next year when you stay at our Kauai vacation rentals. This year the event goes virtual on August 22, from 5 to 6pm, Hawaiian Standard Time. The Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji in Hanapepe will be hosting a Bon Dance live on their Facebook page and YouTube live.
According to the Temple, this will be like a real Bon Dance with taiko drummers. The Rev. Kohtoku Hirao will be performing, and there will be some live dancers in the ring. Bon Dance is a celebration of life held during Obon season which is when ancestral spirits return to visit.
This year the customs and traditions have been stymied with COVID-19. Gerald Hirata, president of the Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple Zenshuji, said “in order to continue honoring those values, we have to adapt accordingly, and find a way to continue these traditions.”
You can support the event by making a donation or purchasing a Bon Dance towel for $5 plus shipping. The towel is also called tenugui, and is an iconic image of obon celebrations. It can be used as a dress adornment, a decorative headband, or dance implement.
Hirata commented, “This is about the human spirit in difficult times. A Japanese proverb says, “The bamboo that bends is stronger than the oak that resists.” Like the bamboo, we must bend and not break.”
Top Five Kauai Bon Dance Tips for 2021.
1. Attend this 500-year Japanese tradition that honors the spirits of ancestors. Under a tropical night sky, dancers wearing summer kimonos move in a circle to the beat of Taiko drums. The mood is joyous with people of all ages and backgrounds participating.
2. Dancing is not required or expected! You can watch from the sideline or join the circle.
3. Come hungry. During the Bon Dance the barbecue is fired up and plate dinners are served for a nominal fee. There is usually a rummage sale with homemade Japanese treats.
4. Bring the kids too. There are games for them to enjoy and Hawaii shave ice.
5. Take a short break from the crowds and can step inside the Buddhist temple hosting the event. You can admire the alter and perhaps see dancers preparing to join the circle. Before leaving, follow them back outside for this celebration of life.
This is a great way to spend a midsummer’s eve and meet locals. If you have been to a Bon Dance, please share your favorite experience.