Did this: Jikoen Hongwanji Mission bon dance

Summer, to me, means a few things.

Longer days spent at the beach, less traffic on the highway during rush hours, and the annual bon dances at temples around the state.

This annual Japanese Buddhist tradition — held between June and August — honors the spirits of family members who have passed away. According to tradition, it is believed the summer months are when ancestral spirits return to visit family and friends.

But that’s not why I go.

Like most local folks, I hit bon dances for the food. Teri beef skewers, cone sushi, fried noodles, andagi, saimin, grilled corn — this is easily my favorite part of any bon dance.

Truth be told, I’ve been going to bon dances since I was a kid, learning how to properly dance from my mom, who taught us odori for obon favorites like “Tanko Bushi” in our living room.

And since I grew up in Kalihi, we would often attend the lively bon dance at the Okinawan Jikoen Hongwanji Mission on the corner of Likelike Highway and School Street. It’s one of those bon dances where live musicians still play in the yagura (high wooden scaffold around which the dancers circle). No taped music here!

I go back to Jikoen every July — its bon dance is held this weekend — as part of my own summer tradition. My mom may not be there, but I take her moves with me. And her appetite.

Like mother, like daughter.

It’s bon dance time!

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One of my favorite things to do in the summer months in Hawaii is hit a bon dance at a Japanese temple. It’s more than just a cultural experience; it’s got great food, too.

To see more photos, visit my blog, The Cat Dish.

Video of last night’s bon dance by Melissa Chang (@melissa808)

This weekend’s bon dance schedule:

Jikeon Hongwanji Mission, 6 p.m., (808) 845-3422
Wahiawa Ryusenji Soto Mission, 7:30 p.m., (808) 622-1429
Haleiwa Jodo Mission, 8 p.m., (808) 637-4382

For a complete list of bon dances this summer, visit Let’s Bon Dance.