It’s Bon Dance Season in Hawai‘i

A longtime tradition in Hawai‘i, bon dances are lighting up the night at Buddhist temples across the Islands. Here on the Big Island, the summer months provide opportunities for visitors to experience this unique Japanese event that honors loved ones who have passed on.

Known officially as Obon, the celebrations begin in June at various temples and continue through August. “Bon,” which means “hanging upside down,” is a time for paying respect to the departed. In Buddhism, it is believed that summer is the time when the spirits of the ancestors return home.

Usually held in the parking lot or on the grounds outside, the dances take place on Saturdays and are open to the public. Many of the dances even feature taiko drummers. No one is too young or too old to participate. In fact, visitors are encouraged to join in the celebration by learning a few easy dance steps, whether traditional Japanese dances or movements from Hawai‘i’s old plantation days. The dance itself is done in a circle and features simple motions of hand and feet. At some temples, bon dance workshops are held prior to the events.

If you are staying at our Kona bed and breakfast this summer, be sure to make the bon dance a part of your itinerary. There are dozens of Buddhist temples on the Big Island, most of which hold bon dance celebrations.Our Holualoa Inn ohana will help you locate Buddhist temples near the Inn.

Daifukuji Soto Mission in Kona, just a few miles south of Holualoa Inn.

Innkeeper Holualoa Inn