Hawaii: In Real Life ~ Kicking off bon dance season

It’s summer — for Hawaii folks, the season is often celebrated by attending a bon dance at a Buddhist temple each weekend, and there will be one for you in your neighborhood at some point. As many of you know, bon festival is a time when you honor your ancestral spirits; the dancing at the temple is done to welcome and celebrate the spirits on the earthly plane.

As with many traditions in Hawaii, however, bon dances have evolved into popular community events, and people of all cultures and religious beliefs flock to these weekend gatherings for the awesome food, for the quirky bazaar (if available), to see their friends and, yes, to dance. I just started going a few years ago, mostly because Mari Taketa said the food was so good (and also evolving). She grew up with Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin on Pali Hwy., so knows all the ins and outs of everything that happens at a bon dance. Me, not so much.

Bon dance season 2012 has started, and my friends are already making plans to go to some of the more popular ones and do more, dance more, eat more. Before we do, I checked with my twitter friend Donna Nakasue (@Champuru) — whose name has been “synonymous with all things bon dance,” as I like to say — to learn a little more about how a newbie can fit in at the event and avoid any social or cultural faux pas. Remember, though, that Donna is Okinawan, so the dress, the dance, and some of the traditions are slightly different from Japanese ones.

By the way, you can see more in Donna’s blog archives. Click here to see her blog and enter “bon dance” in the search box to get some of her insights on bon dances around town. In the meantime, visit HawaiiIRL.com to see the rest of our interview and learn some basic moves.

Shall we dance? Here’s the bon dance calendar for Oahu. If you’re only going to Honpa Hongwanji dances, here’s the information on those. See you at the bon dance!

Ewa Hongwanji: 7 p.m. June 16, 91-1133 Renton Rd.  681-5222.

Wahiawa Hongwanji: June 22 and 23, 1067 California Ave. Children’s lantern parade at 7 p.m. followed by dancing on both nights. 622-4320.

Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin: 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. June 29 and 30, 1727 Pali Hwy. Additional parking at Hongwanji Mission and Kawananakoa Middle schools.  536-7044.

Moiliili Hongwanji Mission: 6 p.m. July 6 and 7, Varsity Theatre parking lot, 1100 University Ave., in conjunction with the “Discover Moiliili Festival.”  949-1659.

Haleiwa Jodo Mission: 8 p.m. July 6 and 7, 66-279-A Haleiwa Rd. Floating lantern service at 9 p.m. on July 7 only.  637-4382.

Kaneohe Higashi Hongwanji: 6:30 p.m. July 7, 45-520 Keaahala Rd.  247-2661.

Rissho Kosei-kai Buddhist Church of Hawaii (Pearl City): 6 to 9:30 p.m. July 13 and 14, 2280 Auhuhu St.  455-3212.

Koboji Shingon Mission: 7 p.m. July 13 and 14, 1223-B N. School St. Additional parking at Damien Memorial High School.  842-7033.

Waipahu Hongwanji: 7 p.m. July 13 and 14, 94-821 Kuhaulua St.  677-4221.

Haleiwa Shingon Mission: 7:30 p.m. July 13 and 14, 66-469 Paalaa Rd.  637-4423.

Jikoen Hongwanji Mission: 6 p.m. July 20 and 21, 1731 N. School St. Additional parking at Kapalama Elementary School.  845-3422.

Shinshu Kyokai Mission: 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. July 20 and 21, 1631 S. Beretania St. 973-0150.

Wahiawa Ryusenji Soto Mission: 7:30 p.m. July 20 and 21, 164 California Ave.  622-1429.

Kailua Hongwanji Mission: 7 p.m. July 21, 268-A Kuulei Road.  262-4560.

Waianae Hongwanji: 7 p.m. July 21, 85-762 Old Government Road.  677-4221.

Higashi Hongwanji Betsuin: 7:15 p.m. July 27 and 28, 1685 Alaneo St.  531-9088.

Natsu Matsuri Summer Fest: 5:30 to 9 p.m. July 27 and 28, Pacific Beach Hotel, 2490 Kalakaua Ave. 922-1233.

Koganji Temple: 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 3 and 4, 2869 Oahu Ave., Opens Aug. 3 with a children’s lantern parade.  732-0446.

Natsu Matsuri Summer Fest: 5:30 to 9 p.m. August 3 and 4, Pacific Beach Hotel, 2490 Kalakaua Ave. 922-1233.

Waipahu Soto Zen Temple Taiyoji: 7 p.m. Aug. 3 and 4, 94-413 Waipahu St.  671-3103.

Palolo Hongwanji: 7:30 p.m. Aug. 3 and 4, 1641 Palolo Ave. 732-1491.

Waialua Hongwanji: 7 p.m. Aug. 4, 67-313 Kealohanui St.  637-4395.

Natsu Matsuri Summer Fest: 5:30 to 9 p.m. August 10 and 11, Pacific Beach Hotel, 2490 Kalakaua Ave. 922-1233.

Pearl City Hongwanji Mission: 7 to 10 p.m. Aug. 10 and 11, 858 2nd St.  455-1680.

Soto Mission of Aiea Taiheiji: 7 to 10:30 p.m. Aug. 10 and 11, 99-045 Kauhale St.; taiko performances 6:30 p.m. both nights, with Okinawan bon dance from 9 to 9:45 p.m. Aug. 11 only.  488-6794.

Shingon Shu Hawaii: 7 to 11 p.m. Aug. 10 and 11, 915 Sheridan St., with children’s games; food sales begin 6 p.m.  941-5663.

Mililani Hongwanji: 7 p.m. Aug. 17 and 18, 95-257 Kaloapau St., with a lantern parade Aug. 17 at 6:45 p.m.  625-0925.

Jodo Mission of Hawaii: 7:30 to 10 p.m. Aug. 17 and 18, 1429 Makiki St.  949-3995.

Soto Mission of Hawaii: Aug. 17 and 18, 1708 Nuuanu Ave.; services begin 7:30 p.m. with dancing to follow both nights until 10:30 p.m.  537-9409.

Nichiren Mission of Hawaii: 5:30 p.m. Aug. 25, 33 Pulelehua Way.  595-3517.

The Kapahulu Center: 6 to 10 p.m. Aug. 25, 3410 Campbell Ave.; keiki games and food sales begin 4 p.m. 737-1748.

Aiea Hongwanji: 7 p.m. Aug. 25, 99-186 Puakala St.  487-2626.

Okinawan Festival: September 1 and 2, click here for more details. Kapiolani Park. 676-5400.

Daikong Festival: 4 to 9 p.m. Sept. 8, Honbunshin International Center, 95-030 Waihonu St. 623-7693

Autumn Matsuri: 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 15, Okinawan Cultural Center, 676-5400