Kauai’s summer months come alive with rhythmic drum beats and dancers clothed in brightly colored kimonos. Japanese culture is on display at bon dances held around the island throughout June and July.
A bon dance festival is a Japanese Buddhist custom that honors the spirits of one’s ancestors. Although it is steeped in religious and cultural customs, those who come from different backgrounds will still enjoy the dancing and festivities present at a bon dance. Dancers wearing kimono or hapi (a short jacket) dance in a circle around a center tower, under colorful lanterns strung above, while taiko drummers call out encouragement and keep a rhythmic beat. Attendees are encouraged to spectate and are even welcome to respectfully join in the movements. To participate, simply wait until the song is finished, move into the circle, and follow the motions of the person in front of you when a new song begins!
Along with music and dancing, bon dances often have small, carnival-like game booths that children will enjoy participating in. A variety of food is also available, so plan to stay for dinner. Items such as saimin, barbequed meat sticks, and andagi (hole-less Okinawan donuts) are common fare.
Japanese culture is visibly present throughout Hawaii since Japanese immigration began in 1868. Immigrants originally came to Kauai to work in the sugar cane fields, which was a large part of the local economy. Modern day Kauai is largely a melting pot of Asian cultures.
Attend Bon Dance in Kauai
Bon dance in Kauai are held around the island throughout June and July and entrance is free. The 2019 schedule is as follows:
May 31-June 1 – Kauai Soto Zen Temple (Hanapepe)
June 7-8 – Koloa Jodo Mission (Koloa)
June 14-15 – West Kauai Hongwanji Mission (Hanapepe)
June 21-22 – Lihue Hongwanji Mission (Lihue)
June 28-29 – Waimea Shingon Mission (Waimea)
July 12-13 – Kapaa Jodo Mission (Kapaa)
July 19-20 – Waimea Higashi Hongwanji Mission (Waimea)
July 26-27 – Kapaa Hongwanji Mission (Kapaa)
We have vacation rentals at nearly 30 properties on Kauai’s north, east, and south shores. Staying at one of our east or south coast properties will put you in perfect proximity for enjoying the bon dance around the island. Many of our vacation rentals offer amenities such as refreshing swimming pools, full kitchens, and island-inspired décor. Contact us at 866-922-5642 or [email protected] to learn more about activities and bon dance in Kauai!