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 art and religious traditions have evolved on Kauai for over five generations in the Japanese American community. Over 500 lanterns (chochin) decorate the temple grounds and the dance ring, making this festival the most colorful and largest on the island. 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.

This year, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded the Kauai Soto Zen Temple a grant to support the festival. The NEA recognized the temple's preservation efforts in our folk traditions here on Kauai and our outreach into the community. Two items underscored by the grant were (1) a genre of songs that were sung by women working in the sugar canefields of Hawaii and (2) an original festival food fare  called the "flying saucers," that originated at this temple in the 1950's. 

The center stage is the bon odori, the Japanese folk dancing with lively music while the taiko drums provides the rhythm and energy to this event. The dancers dance in concentric circles around a raised platform (yagura), dressed in colorful kimonos, yukatas, and happi coats, under a canopy of lanterns.  

A variety of cultural and historical exhibits tout the temple's immigrant and sugar plantation heritage. Guests are encouraged to participate in the various activities to learn the significance of Obon, when ancestral spirits return, and loved ones remembered. It is a happy time of music, song, dance, and food.  Cultural performances will be held on Saturday and Sunday evening. Food will be served. The most popular festival food fare, the Flying Saucer, originated at this temple, will be available!

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.

This event is supported by the Hawaii Tourism Authority through the Community Enrichment Program, and the National Endowment for the Arts.  Visit the website at for current intormation & Facebook.

June 16, 2023 - June 17, 2023
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