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6 Things You Must Buy at a Hawaii Bon Dance Festival

Bon Dance season is almost over—the last event is Aug. 30. Check out Lei Chic’s guide to Obon must-haves.


Ever since you pulled a Miley and were—politely—asked to cut out the rug-cutting at your cousin’s wedding, you’ve avoided dancing.

Which is why you’ll totally be on board with the Lei Chic approach to bon dances: the shopping approach. This past weekend, we sampled the wares at the Manoa Koganji dance. Check out our list of obon dances around Hawaii for an upcoming event near you, where you’ll find similar items.

And, if you’re feeling brave, you can even try joining one of the dances—trust us, they’re super easy.

Just make sure you leave your twerking at home.

Shave ice

How do you make summer even hotter? Surround yourself with a crowd of kimono-clad dancers. No wonder everyone wants to make a scramble for the shave ice booth between sets. These sweet, chilly treats are just the way to top off a toasty night of cultural cardio.

Exotic mochi

Mochi is welcome—and common—any time of the year. But we loved the exotic mochi at the Manoa bon dance, which included kinako-dusted and azuki-an varieties, as well as mochi drenched in ginger or miso sauce or wrapped in nori. Nom.

Kimono dog

Most bon dances will be an opportunity to gorge on andagi, the deep-fried Okinawan doughnut that local kids grow up on. At this bon dance, we were delighted to find that some genius thought to combine delicious andagi batter with the heartiness of a turkey hot dog. We are so trying this at home.


Cute geisha keychains

You can’t leave without a cute trinket from the shops and booths! We fell in love with these too-cute keychains of Japanese kokeshi-style girls, complete with flowery charms and tiny kimonos. The perfect gift for the little (and big!) girls in your life.

Taiko drumsticks

The members of the Koganji decorated these festive drumsticks to sell. After a stunning series of taiko performances throughout the night—including a duet with a didgeridoo player that was positively chilling—we were eager to grab some and start learning the art of taiko ourselves.

Homemade preserves

Adorable, homemade, handpacked jellies and curds, just like Auntie used to make? Yes, please. Flavors ranged from papaya chutney to lime curd to nectarine amaretto jam. The cute fabric lid toppings in a wide variety of prints only made it sweeter.

Click here to find a bon dance in your neighborhood. 

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