Kauai Bon Dances

One of the greatest reasons that make Kauai enjoyable for many residents and visitors here is the diversity. When you have people of various backgrounds coming together on this tiny island, it’s inevitable that we create a natural exchange of customs and knowledge of one another’s culture. Over time, what seemed so foreign suddenly becomes your favorite meal or your favorite activity. Once we get a grasp of the underlying reason for that, then we can truly appreciate the melting pot that Kauai has become.

Where am I going with this?

meaning Bon-Odori or Bon Festival Dance

Did you ever watch the Karate Kid, Part II? Of course not, it’s pretty terrible. But, in the film Mr. Miyagi introduces its viewers to a Bon Dance just before the anticlimactic end-of-the-movie fight scene. To give you a general visualization of the event: chochin, or paper lanterns, are strung across and are used to illuminate the dance floor where performers circle around what is called the yagura, or the little tower in the center, where the musician is positioned. They are all dressed in traditional kimonos while spectators listen to the beat of the taiko drum and sounds of traditional Japanese folk music echo into the night. Bon Dances are to honor the spirits of one’s ancestors, but rather than doing so in grief, attendees are cheerful because it’s a celebration of life as well. This annual event is open to the public; it’s simply a community get-together so the more people the better!

Some advice while you mark your calendars: go with an empty stomach. Flying saucers, sushi, mochi, and saimen, just to list a few. Even if you have no idea what is being served up I encourage you to try them all. This applies to any trip, anywhere; you didn’t come to Kauai to eat food that you can already get at home. So, on that note while we’re on the subtopic of local food, here’s to all our mainland visitors: spam is delicious.

Good food, great fun, and amazing people. Click here for an updated schedule of Bon Dances around the island!