Soto Zen Bon Festival | Go Hawaii

Soto Zen Bon Festival

The Soto Zen Bon Festival showcases the best of the Bon Dance culture in Hawaii. The folk and religious traditions have evolved on Kauai for over five to six generations in the Japanese American community. The Bon festival serves to educate not only visitors but other island residents about this unique cultural tradition, including descendants of Japanese ancestry who can deepen their own understanding of their heritage.

The festivities are held at the temple grounds, where the center stage is the bon odori, the Japanese folk dancing with lively music while the taiko drums provides the rhythm and energy. The dancers line in concentric circles around a raised platform (yagura), dressed in colorful kimonos, yukatas, and happi coats, under a canopy of lanterns.  

The Soto Zen Bon Festival brands itself with a festival logo and a theme, "Let's Bon Dance!" It is a festival for all ages. It is a gathering of joy when ancestral spirits return and are united with the living. It is a time to return to your hometown, reunite with family and remember the loved ones who have come before you. It's a time of feasting and dancing.

In Hawaii, it's also a time for celebrating cultural, historical, and folk traditions. At Soto Zen, Japanese cultural traditions in music, song, and dance are perpetuated. Historically, the peopling of Hawaii are tied to the sugar industry so our plantation heritage is celebrated as well. This is the reason for the island's diversity. Many people, many cultures, colorful traditions that make Hawaii a special place. 

Food is an important ingredient and the celebration represents the mix of flavors from different local cultures.  Flying saucers, the most popular festival food fare, originated at this temple in the 1950s, and is an out-of-this-world culinary treat!

Cultural performances will be held on Friday and Saturday evenings. Historical exhibits tell our story. Food and game booths abound. And guests are encouraged to participate and engage in activities that honor loved ones who have come before.

In 2023, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded a $20,000 grant to support the festival's efforts  in preserving its cultural, historical, and folk traditions. In 2024, the festival is supported by funding through Kilohana by the Council of Native Hawaiian Advancement, the Hawaii Tourism Authority-Community Enrichment Program, and the County of Kauai. 

June 22, 2024
5:00pm - 10:00pm
Kauai Soto Zen Temple
13500 Kaumualii Hwy
Hanapepe, HI 96716
Phone Numbers
Contact Info
  • Contact Name: Gerald Hirata
  • Contact Organization: Kauai Soto Zen Temple

Location: Kauaʻi