Maui has a strong Japanese influence, so it is no surprise that we are given multiple opportunities to observe Obon on our island. Obon is a Japanese custom to honor relatives that have passed away.
Bon odori (dances) are performed during the events and lanterns are lit to celebrate the lives and sacrifices of departed relatives. It’s a beautiful way to remember loved ones that are not with us any longer.
Yukata, light kimonos, or happi coats are often worn by participants. During some of the dances you will be handed a small towel called a tenugui to aid in the moves.
Friends have told me they would collect these towels and have someone sew a happi coat for future obon events.
We began attending obon last summer because so many of our favorite people are involved in one way or another. We weren’t sure what to expect, but we quickly figured out that many others didn’t know the dance moves perfectly either, and all were welcome.
It was also a treat to watch our friends perform with Maui Taiko. The drumming hits you in the chest and you can’t help but start dancing!
The Lantern Ceremony, only performed at the Lahaina Mission, was moving, and one of my favorite nights of 2015. The beauty of watching everyone release their loved one, symbolized with a lantern floating away on the ocean, was beautiful and touching. I’m looking forward to this year’s obon already. If you’re on island, come check out one in your area
Before attending the first dance, our friends gave us a video they helped to produce called
Copies can be purchased here. It was very helpful in understanding the history of Japanese culture on Maui spanning the past 200 years.