BON DANCE Schedule of Events


Tuesday June 27 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm Temple’s bon dance practice in parking lot. Everyone is welcome.  (Times are approximate)

1) Koolau Sakura Odori Kai  from 6:35  30 minutes (CD music)

2) Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai  from 7:05  20 minutes (live & CD music)

3) Hawaii Eisa Shinyuuyu Kai  from 7:25  20 minutes (live music)

4) Koolau Sakura Odori Kai  from 7:45  45 minutes (CD music)

BON DANCE DAY  -- One Night Only!!!

Saturday  July 1

5:30pm   Food Sales Open

6:00pm   Shinshu Buddhist Obon and Hatsubon Service

6:30pm    Welcome Greetings

6:35pm    Taiko Drum Opening –  Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai

6:36pm   Tanko Bushi Lesson – led by Koolau Sakura Odori Kai

                and Dancing begins

               Once music begins, it should be nonstop to 10pm!

               (But our food & refreshment booth shall be open.)

10pm Pau (State noise regulations)

Excellent, All-Night Music Program For Your Enjoyment

      The Kaneohe Higashi Hongwanji is very fortunate to have two lively musical troupes to play the night away – the Hawaii Eisa Shinyuu Kai and the Iwakuni Odori Aiko Kai. They will add their unique musicality to the new Koolau Sakura Odori Kai dancers who bring a vibrant new spirit to their recorded minyo songs.

Spirited Sakura to Brighten the Minyo Scene

      A great evening of spirited minyo (folk) dances will be led by the new Koolau Sakura Odori Kai dancers performing under the direction of Ms. Jean Crosier. The Koolau Sakura Odori Kai is a little over a year old this year, based in Kaneohe, and with deep roots in the Kaneohe bon dance scene.  In fact, they have been practicing for many months and will have some new-for-Kaneohe minyo tunes this year.

Powerful Okinawan Music

      The Hawaii Eisa Shinyuu Kai is a very popular local Okinawan musical and dance troupe dedicated to preserving and perpetuating a proud Okinawan culture over the generations. At our Kaneohe bon this year, the Eisa troupe will be led by Ms. Melissa Uyeunten.

Traditional and Contemporary Iwakuni Style

      We are also honored to have the Iwakuni Aiko Odori Kai play live for us this year again.  This Iwakuni troupe, in their bright blue happi coats, has been a popular dance troupe specializing in minyo music from the city of Iwakuni, in Yamaguchi prefecture. But this is a local-troupe based on Oahu and is now over 63 years young. Dancing will be led by Ms. Marion Kanemori.  They will also have spirited taiko drums, and traditional vocals.

Queen and Members of the Cherry Blossom Court to Attend

      A special honor for Kaneohe! Members of the Cherry Blossom Festival Court have confirmed their appearance. Queen Heather Omori, Princess Jennifer Ezaki and Princess Kelly Ann Takiguchi are planning to attend!

      This makes our 2017 bon dance the seventh year that the Honolulu Japanese Junior Chamber of Commerce’s Cherry Blossom Festival has participated and helped us. Please come and meet Queen Heather Omori and Princesses Jennifer Ezaki and Kelly Ann Takiguchi.

Bon Dance Food Menu

      Our food booth will begin sales at 5:30 pm and will remain open for the night. Our delicious menu items are listed below. We are a neighborhood temple and know that families want a good meal value that’s also healthy. We have a variety of affordable meal types made in our tiny kitchen. We go through exceptional effort to maintain a State Department of Health-certified kitchen and our cooks have received fresh training on food handling, for your family’s peace of mind. And hungry tummies!

  • BBQ Beef skewers (cooked over kiawe charcoal!)
  • Teriyaki Chicken w/ Rice Bento
  • Edamame Rice Bento
  • Nishime w/ Rice plate
  • Hot Dog (kiawe grilled) on Bun
  • Chili Hot Dog on Rice plate
  • Spam Musubi
  • Slices of Pie
  • Famous Hand-formed Okinawan Andagi
  • Frozen Strawberry Ice Cake (contains milk)
  • Cold Watermelon Slices


By Reverend Aki Nishihori

Kaneohe Higashi Hongwanji Mission


When I heard that Bon Dance is the biggest event for Buddhists in Hawaii, I was surprised!

In Japan, Obon is actually a big event for many people and all Buddhist ministers, regardless of sects, are hectic - but maybe for different reasons than for Hawaii Buddhists. In Japan many members of temples ask their ministers to visit members’ homes and chant in front of the home butsudan (family altars).

When I was working for a temple in Osaka, I usually visited more than 15 homes in a day during Obon season.  My friend, who is a minister of Jodo shu sect, said he usually visits 50 homes a day!!  So Obon is a big event for people in Japan, too.

But how about bon dance? I know that people are dancing in some areas of Japan, but I have never danced in Japan. I think bon dance is a cultural event popular by locality instead of by temple.

Actually, I don’t remember whether I have ever been to any bon dance festivals or not. I was born and raised in a Shinshu (Higashi) temple in Kobe, Hyogo prefecture, which is a rather big city and I don’t think we have a big bon dance festival in our area. That is the reason I am not familiar with Hawaii’s bon dance phenomena. However, my first bon dance in Hawaii (at Kaneohe Higashi Hongwanji) might be enjoyable! 

So, I looked up bon dance on the Internet. I felt it was strange (and humorous) that I looked up a Japanese traditional event while in a foreign country. (Please don’t tell my hometown this.) According to Wikipedia, Obon is “Originally a Nenbutsu folk dance to welcome the spirits of the dead, the style of celebration varies in many aspects from region to region.”

It says, “A Nenbutsu folk dance,” however, this is not our Higashi denomination because we don’t have the concept of “the spirits of the dead.” As you may know, in our Jodo shin sect, we don’t pray for our ancestors. Thinking about our ancestors is really important for us but our Shin Buddhist events are always for us, who are living now.

Hatsubon service and the bon dance are opportunities to listen to the Dharma. People who passed have become a part of this immeasurable life and they want us not to live in vain.

Why don’t we think about our lives together on this opportunity? If just only one of your ancestors did not exist, you would not be here. Thus, as we can see, every life is interconnected.  You are invited and welcome to attend our July 1 Bon Service and Bon Dance.

Let’s dance!!!           Gassho, Aki Nishihori

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