August 10, 2000 O-Bon in Hawaii
Summers in Hilo were always highlighted by weekend O-Bon dances at the different hongwanjis in town. I would look forward to long nights of dancing, and practice the steps around the coffee table as the familiar songs played in my heads. As I grew older, it was the “in” thing to do, and the church became a congregation of friends.
Last Friday night, my friends and I went to the Koganji O-Bon Dance in Manoa. Although I’ve only been to a few dances on Oahu, the food booths, yukata-clad obachans, and the echoing music brought the familiarity of my childhood memories back to life.
As with different temples, there were different dances. Sometimes the ladies used taiko sticks and fans, where I only knew how to do the “towel” dances. There was even a dance that resembled “line-dancing.” Some songs seemed too modern to be Bon Dance songs, but we tried them all the same, and had a great time.
But when the familiar songs played, those that I knew by heart, the cold Manoa winds and rains couldn’t stop me from enjoying myself. I smiled as the lady next to us prompted our steps with “dig, dig, shoulder, shoulder, back, back, slide, clap.” It reminded me of the days when I would follow Saito-san, or Grandma’s friends around the yagura, copying their moves.
For Kyle, it was an entirely new experience. I explained to him that the ladies from each hongwanji wore the same yukata print. The Koganji ladies had purple yukatas with gold obi sashes, for example. I told him that the shave ice was there because the dancers get hot from a long night of dancing, and there are always food booths, too. Church volunteers help with the parking and selling, as all proceeds usually go to the church. But more than the religious aspects, or familiar routines, an important part of the Bon Dance is the camaraderie and gathering of family and friends.
Surely enough, we saw Reggie, and Denise, whose family came from the Mainland to participate in this year’s dance. The Buddhist church isn’t discriminating, and invites all people to join in the dancing. Nowadays, wearing a yukata or happi coat isn’t required, either. In fact, I saw a few curious people who were lured to the dancing by the music playing in Manoa Valley.
I was absolutely delighted in having gone to the Bon Dance on Friday night. Can’t wait for next year!
Susan Sensei’s English Lesson #41（スーザン先生の英語講座 その41）
For two years I taught English in Japan, and was “スーザン先生” to my students in Ikaho town, Gunma Prefecture. I will try and introduce new words and phrases for the Japanese visitor to Hawaii. Here is this week’s situation:
“I’d like one fried chicken plate and a Pepsi.”
“May I have an extra fork?”
Have a great time in Hawaii!
|Loco Girl’s Profile（ロコ・ガールのプロフィール） Born in Hilo, I grew up going fishing with Dad, shopping with Mom, and trying to be a good “big sister” to a younger sister and brother. A Waiakea High School and the University of Hawaii at Manoa alumni, I taught English in Japan for two years on the JET Program, and am now employed at PacRim Marketing Group, Inc. I love doing a lot of things-shopping, reading, lettering, making jewelry & crafts, watching Friends-and that’s just the start of my list! I like being busy, and am active with the JET Alumni Association (JETAA) and the Honolulu Junior Japanese Chamber of Commerce (HJJCC.) My family and friends are, of course, very important to me, and are why I live a very typical, happy, local-style life in Hawaii and will never leave!|