Just as certain as the summer south shore swells arrive in the island, the O-bon season begins in earnest. The Japanese Buddhist custom honors departed spirits of ancestors who are believed to return during the summer months to visit family and friends. It’s a great activity for families or get-together with friends.
Buddhist temples all thought the islands celebrate in grand style. The bon-dance is center of the festivities. Bon-dance are scheduled from late June to late August throughout the islands. They are held in the early evening and are an experience like no other. People gather in what typically the parking lot of the temple where the entire area is decorated with strings of colorful lighted lanterns. In the very center is a tall decorated platform called the yagura. From the yagura, announcers will lead kimono clad dancers over a loudspeaker throughout the night. Music is provided by taiko drummers who beat out the rhythms in dramatic form. There are dance leaders to follow for those who are not skilled in the movements.
For those who are shy about dancing, there is the food. Traditional Japanese o-bon menu includes a variety of treats. Teriyaki beef sticks grilled fresh on site are juicy and salty sweet, andagi, a dense sweet fried doughnut originally from Okinawa. Also typical are fried noodles and shaved ice. The food is fun, inexpensive and supports the temple
Going to a bon dance is an enjoyable cultural experience. There is one schedule for almost every summer weekend. Be sure to include one in your summer plans.