The last night of the annual Obon Festival on Kauai was a beautiful Toro Nagashi ceremony Sunday evening, August 6th at Kukuiula Small Boat Harbor.
The traditional Japanese ceremony was presided over by Reverend Kosen Ishikawa from the Buddhist Koloa Jodo Mission.
Toro means lantern in Japanese and “nagashi” means flowing. Toro Nagashi is written like this in Japanese:
Five volunteers swam the flotilla of lanterns out past the break at the harbor. (All paddlers that use this harbor are familiar with the challenges of negotiating past this surf break). From there the procession of lanterns was able to catch the current with the rudder-ed boat at the front, and proceed down the coast.
Ray Gordon and I were at the bon festival Saturday night and at the Toro Nagashi ceremony on Sunday. If you are on Kauai in August, we recommend that you attend Bon festivals here. Note that Bon is written both just bon and o-bon お盆. The “o” is honorific. As you can see on our About Page, Ray and I both lived in Japan for a very long period. I for 22 years and Ray for the 13 we were there together after getting married.
The first shot here includes a Shisa シーサー or lion that is traditional to the Bon Festivals in Okinawa. There is a strong historic influence from Okinawa on Kauai. Reverend Ishikawa is from Niigata, Japan.
The spirits of the deceased close to us are thought to return to join us during the o-bon period in August bringing joy and festivities. The last night of o-bon, the souls of the departed are guided back to the spirit world beginning the cycle that will bring them back to us next August.
I visited Koloa Jodo Mission on Sunday morning and got this shot of the paper lantern preparation for that night’s toro nagashi.
The following photos are all at Kukui’ula Small Boat Harbor at 7:30 pm and later. Note that each lantern has beautiful calligraphy of a deceased relative’s name. All of the calligraphy for the lanterns is done by Rev. Ishikawa and his lovely wife Yayoi.
There are five volunteer swimmers in and under the water tying the rafts together with wire to form a flotilla. We can see the green glow bars they use to find each other with.
We stayed and watched the Toro Nagashi well after the swimmers came back as it moved in a perfect line into the sea carrying the souls of the departed to the spirit world.
We will be posting dates and locations for the 2018 o-bon festivities here in early summer.
There are o-bon activities in Lihue, Hanapepe, Kapa`a and Waimea as well as Koloa.
The following photo is from the Bon Festivities on August 4th at Koloa Jodo Mission. Thanks to Tammy Miyazaki Puu who is wearing a precious kimono she inherited from her grandmother.
Following is a video from WKHM Hanapepe Temple June 2, the first Bon Dance on Kauai for 2017 from Rev. Kosen Ishikawa’s YouTube:
Okinawan Bon Dance from Rev. Kosen Ishikawa’s YouTube:
Saturday, June 24, 2017 at Kapaa Jodo Mission
0:00 Tenyo Bushi
6:10 Kudaka Manjuu Shuu