Archives for June 2010

Reflecting upon ancestors in the Konko religious tradition

In the Konko faith, we call ancestors “mitama” in Japanese, which means “divine spirit.” The Konko founder said, “Because humans are born through the blessings of Kami/God, they must also die with the blessings of Kami. Therefore, if a child’s birth is a happy event, then death is a much happier event since one becomes […]

From San Jose to Asuka Village: Obon in Japan

“Do you do Bon Odori?” I asked Michino, one of my fifth-grade students in Japan. She replied in the negative. “Why not?” I asked. “It’s kind of embarrassing.” “Really? Then who dances?” “Mostly old people.” “Or little kids,” chimed in Mizuki, one of Michino’s classmates. Huh. I can’t really picture not dancing at an Obon. […]

THE GOCHISO GOURMET: Old Bon Odori, new food

The Hawai‘i Obon season has already started in remote locations on the Big Island and will start on the rest of the islands next weekend. What once was traditionally a Buddhist festival to remember those who have passed before us now attracts both Buddhist and non-Buddhist alike. Some attend for the spiritual reconnection with the […]

Family carries on special legacy with SJ Obon

For siblings Reiko Iwanaga and Kenji Akahoshi, the San Jose Obon is the continuation of a unique legacy started by Iwanaga’s father-in-law, who brought Bon Odori to the American mainland nearly 80 years ago. Iwanaga, lead choreographer of the San Jose Bon Odori, said that she takes pride in carrying on the Bon Odori movement, […]

Observing and Participating in Obon in Cuba

In three cultural exchange trips to Cuba with the U.S. Nikkei group Tsukimikai, I’ve learned that Cuba is a land where cultures and traditions interweave effortlessly — where every contribution is cherished and welcomed, and where people make do with whatever they have. On the most recent trip in 2009 we celebrated Obon. Our Cuban […]

Church of Perfect Liberty in California celebrates 50th anniversary

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO — It seems like every five minutes someone beckoned her for a photo. Machiko Shiozaki obliged the requests each time. After all, it is not every day that the Church of Perfect Liberty (PL) has a 50th anniversary to celebrate. “I don’t know how I came to PL. I don’t know how […]

The Transformation of Obon in Brazil

Obon is a Japanese custom attached to ancestor worship. It is commemorated in the summer, normally on July 15 on the lunar calendar, with services and ceremonies. This custom was brought to Brazil by the first Japanese immigrants, but the initial form of the practice in the family homes has been slowly lost. Today for […]

Bon Dancing in the Aloha State

June marks the start of the Bon season in Hawai‘i. From the first weekend in June to the middle of September, avid Bon dancers throughout the Aloha State don their happi, yukata or kimono and head off to one of the several dance sites on any given weekend. For some, this time of the year […]

Aloha and the Ancestors: Goodbye, welcome back, we love you

The topic of traditions to honor our ancestors brings me back to my “small kid days” as a Sansei Okinawan growing up on the island of Kaua‘i in Hawai‘i. On Sundays I was taught at the Christian church that sinners would go to hell. Sin included both murder and worshipping “graven images.” After church, my […]

A very different kind of Obon

I remember vaguely visiting Pereira Barreto at the edge of the state of São Paulo near the great dam established on the River Tietê. This was many years ago in the ’70s. I believe I crossed over the river to Tres Lagoas in Mato Grosso and experienced an Obon there. I don’t know if it […]

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