The Origins of Bon

Bon Dance at Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple in Hanapepe. Photo by Brian Howell

Bon Dance at Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple in Hanapepe. Photo by Brian Howell

The story of Bon originates when Mokuren, a disciple of the Buddha, discovered that this deceased mother was suffering.

In Buddhist cosmology, Mokuren used his supernatural powers and saw that his mother had fallen into the Realm of Hungry Ghosts. She was unable to eat and was always hungry and thirsty. Disturbed, Mokuren went to the Buddha to seek answers.

The Buddha instructed him to offer food for the monks who were to complete their summer retreat on the 15th day of the seventh month.

Mokuren carried out the task an saw his mother’s release. In doing so, he began to understand the nature of his mother’s past unselfishness and sacrifices that were made for him. So happy that his mother was not suffering, Mokuren danced with joy.

From this dance of joy comes “Bon odori,” or Bon dance, a time when ancestors and their sacrifices are remembered and appreciated.

2015 Bon Dance Schedule

Waimea Shingon Mission — June 5, 6

Kapa‘a Jodo Mission — June 12, 13

West Kaua‘i Hongwanji (Waimea) — June 19, 20

Kapa‘a Hongwanji Mission — June 26, 27

Waimea Higashi Hongwanji — July 10, 11

Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple — July 17, 18

Koloa Jodo Mission — July 24, 25

West Kaua‘i Hongwanji (Hanapepe) — July 31, Aug. 1

Lihu‘e Hongwanji Mission — Aug. 7, 8


By |2016-11-10T05:41:13+00:00June 4th, 2015|0 Comments

About the Author:

Léo Azambuja, editor of For Kaua‘i, has won multiple journalism awards in the state of Hawai‘i, including investigative and enterprise reporting, spot news and feature writing, photojournalism and online reporting.

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