Bon Odori at Senshin Buddhist Temple in Los Angeles. (MARIO GERSHOM REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

The BCA (Buddhist Churches of America) Center for Buddhist Education has announced Obon celebrations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BCA and the American Bon Consortium are coordinating efforts to provide virtual Obon activities, as follows:

Rev. Kodo Umezu

Saturday, July 18, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. (PDT): CBE Seminar, “Who/What Is Amida Buddha?” Special guest speaker: Rev. Kodo Umezu, bishop emeritus, BCA.

English lecture: 11-11:55 a.m. Break: 11:55 a.m.-12:05 p.m. Japanese seminar, 12:05-1 p.m.

Registration is free. Click to register:

Donations gratefully accepted: (Scroll campaigns to select CBE. Donations are processed by BCA Endowment Foundation)

Info: Visit, email or call (510) 809-1460

Dr. Wynn Kiyama

Saturday, July 25, 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. (PDT) via Zoom. CBE Seminar: “Traditions and Innovations in American Obon Dance” presented by Dr. Wynn Kiyama, executive director, Portland Taiko; director, Portland State University Taiko Ensemble; co-founder, American Bon Consortium.

Kiyama received his Ph.D. in musicology from New York University. His research on Obon dance in the U.S. has been shared in articles, lectures, a museum exhibit, the online photo exhibit “Obon Dancing in America: Reverend Yoshio Iwanaga Photo Album,” and the CD “Joy, Remembrance, Death: Obon Music for North America.”

Registration is free: https://forms.jle/18ait2D31G99HzoU6

Donations gratefully accepted: (Scroll campaign to select CBE. Donations are processed by BCA Endowment Foundation)

Info: Visit, email or call (510) 809-1460

Saturday, Aug. 1 and 8, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (PDT): Two CBE lectures and discussions, “Looking to the Future of American Buddhism.”

Dr. Scott Mitchell

How will American Buddhists respond to the rapid changes we are facing in this present moment? How will global issues such as climate change or pandemics affect our communities and our practice? How might we respond to social and political issues and live up to our ideals of wisdom and compassion?

Aug. 1 speaker: Dr. Scott Mitchell, dean of students and faculty affairs, Institute of Buddhist Studies. He holds the Yoshitaka Tamai Professional Chair at IBS. He received his Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union and M.A. from IBS/GTU. He teaches and writes about Buddhism in the West, Buddhist modernism, Pure Land Buddhism, and Buddhism and media. He is the author of “Buddhism in America: Global Religion, Local Contexts” (Bloombury, 2016) and articles in B uddhaDharma/Lion’s Roar.

Dr. Funie Hsu

Aug. 8 speaker: Dr. Funie Hsu, assistant professor of American studies, San Jose State University. She received her Ph.D. in education from UC Berkeley with a designated emphasis in women, gender and sexuality; and her Ed.M. in education policy and management from Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research areas include American Buddhism, race, and mindfulness; her articles are on Lion’s Roar online, and she is on the **Journal of Global Buddhism’s** editorial board. She is acive with the Buddhist Church of Oakland, and her family practice in the Taiwanese Humanistic Buddhist tradition.

To register, visit Registration is free but donations are gratefully accepted. (Scroll campaigns to select CBE. Donations are processed by BCA Endowment Foundation)

Info: or (510) 809-1460

Saturday, Aug. 15, at 6 p.m. (PDT) via Zoom: BCA Virtual Obon (Obon in Your Living Room)

CBE Youth Program Coordinator Koichi Mizushima will host the Zoom program, which will feature Obon dance instruction and dancing online from temples throughout BCA. Sangha members will zoom in from all over the country.

Register here to receive the Zoom link:

Questions: or (510) 809-1460

Rev. Ken Yamada

Saturday, Aug. 22, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (PDT): CBE Seminar, “Higashi Honganji and Nishi Hongwanji: History and Thought” with special guest speaker Rev. Ken Yamada, editor, Shinshu Center of America.

Yamada was born in Oakland and attended Berkeley Higashi Honganji temple, participated in Jr. YBA activities, and played basketball. After graduating from UC Berkeley, majoring in sociology with a Buddhism focus, he studied Jodo Shinshu at the Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley and Chuo Bukkyo Gakuin in Kyoto, but couldn’t understand Buddhism and dropped out. He worked as a newspaper reporter in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco, and later became a magazine editor. He rediscovered Buddhism, re-entered the ministry, and served 13 years at the Berkeley temple. Three years ago, he became editor of Higashi’s Shinshu Center of America, overseeing English publications.

Registration is free:

Donations gratefully accepted: (Scroll campaigns to select CBE. Donations are processed by BCA Endowment Foundation)

Info: Visit, email or call (510) 809-1460

American Bon Consortium on YouTube

Virtual Bon Dance with guest Dharma talk by Rev. Marvin Harada, BCA bishop

Virtual Bon Dance 2 with guest Dharma talk by Rev. Jerry Hirano, director of BCA Center for Buddhist Education; resident minister of Salt Lake Buddhist Temple

Virtual Bon Dance 3 with guest Dharma talk by Rev. Masao Kodani, BCA minister emeritus, Senshin Buddhist Temple

These videos are prepared by the American Bon Consortium to complement local temple Obon activities and the BCA Virtual Obon presented by BCA Center for Buddhist Education on Aug. 15. A Zoom link is provided to register for the event.

Also on YouTube: “American Bon Dancing: In Joy and Remembrance — Yerba Buena Gardens Festival: Sept. 1, 2019.” Video by J-Town Community TV. Director Henry Nakata features the entire program presented at Yerba Buena Gardens after the close of the 16th World Buddhist Women’s Convention in San Francisco. The American Bon Consortium was invited to present again this year during the Labor Day weekend, but has postponed this due to the coronavirus pandemic. The video captures the story of American Bon Consortium projects by Wynn Kiyama and Reiko Iwanaga.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *