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 […]

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 […]