Above and below: Scenes from Gardena Buddhist Church’s 2019 Bon Odori. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

Get your kachi-kachis out, dust off the yukatas and happi coats, and get READY TO DANCE!! 

Gardena Buddhist Church is excited to announce that after a two-year hiatus, we will once again be having our Obon celebration. This year, our Obon will a modified event with an Obon Dance along with our traditional raffle drawing on Sunday, Aug. 14.

Come on out and get energized by the rhythmic pounding of taiko drums with a performance by Isami Taiko at 4:30 p.m. The evening festivities continue at 5 p.m. with Obon dancing. 

Some of our Obon elements will be the familiar to you – as in the past, we will be dancing in the street! The dancing will take place on Halldale Avenue on the east side of our church property. It’s always a beautiful sight with the Yagura Tower in the center of our dance circle.

This year we will be dancing many of our Obon favorites, such as “AIUEO Ondo,” “Gassho Ondo,” “Sakura Ondo,” “Shiawase Samba,” and “Tokyo Ondo,” along with “Kangi-E,” a newly created Obon dance for the Buddhist Churches of America by Nobuko Miyamoto.

Rev. John Iwohara, resident minister of GBC, stated, “Obon is a time when we look back and allow ourselves to rediscover how rich and full our lives continue to be. What I missed most in not having Obon at the temple is how the temple was able to express to the larger community how resilient they (we) are and how life does not need to be lived ‘enduring’ but can be lived ‘celebrating.’”

We would like to remind you that we will not be selling food at this event. We invite you to patronize some of the wonderful restaurants we have in the local area.

We ask that everyone observe our entry screening protocols (no COVID symptoms, not currently under isolation or quarantine requirements). Although the event will be outside, we are expecting a large crowd and strongly recommend masking.

We also invite you to attend our Obon and Hatsubon service, which will begin at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14. You may attend in-person or virtually. Hatsubon is the first Obon service honoring the passing of a loved one. 

Rev. Iwohara stated, “Obon, as a religious event, is held to remember and through remembering, appreciating the sacrifices and struggles those who went before us made in their lives to give us this opportunity to meet with the Nenbutsu (the Dharma) in our lives today.”

We hope that you can join us at our Obon Celebration! 

Rev. Iwohara stated, “If a person cannot join us in person, all they really need to do is put their hands together in gassho and repeat ‘Namo Amida Butsu.’ If they can say these words appreciating all those for the past who helped to give them the opportunity to say and hear the Nenbutsu again, all the better.”

Gardena Buddhist Church is located at 1517 W. 166th St., Gardena 90247. You can find more information on our website at www.gardenabuddhistchurch.org.   

— Sharyl Yamada-Oda

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