The bon dance tower or yagura is where the dancing takes place.

7 Bon Dance Survival Tips

Bon dances are great family-fun events that encourage everyone – from grandparents to parents and kids – to get up and dance.  

I’m no professional when it comes to bon dances. In fact, I just learned that what I thought was a kimono, is actually a yukata (a garment with cotton-like material used for summer seasons and sometimes worn at bon dances). But, I’ve been attending the annual summer bon dance circuit long enough to share with you these important survival tips. 

Mushroom fries from Otsuji Farms. Hamakua mushrooms chopped, battered, and fried into a delicious and filling snack.

1. Go early.

Parking spots usually fill up quickly.  Another perk? Shorter food lines.

2. B.Y.O.C.

Remember the childhood saying, "Move your meat, lose your seat"? If you B.Y.O.C. (Bring Your Own Chair), you won't have to worry about finding and saving seats. Just unfold your chair near the general seating area and enjoy. 

3. Follow the person in the front you.

Don’t know the dance? Don’t worry! Just follow what others are doing. Oh, and keep in the outside circle; leave the center to the pros. 

4. Get flying saucers.

One of my favorite memories from going to the Hanapepe Bon Dance on Kauai is going for the ono flying saucers. These toasted sloppy joe sandwiches are delicious
and if they’re available, I highly recommend replenishing your famished dancing heart with one (or two). 

Orange Dream tea from Tea on Fleek.

5. Drink lots of water.

Bon dance season is during hot, humid summer months. Drink lots of water before, during, and after to keep hydrated. 

6. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes

Skip the jeans and opt-in for shorts and a T-shirt or tank top. Slippers are okay, but I highly recommend soft or athletic shoes.

7. Dance “Tanko Bushi”.

“Tanko Bushi” – a Japanese folk song about coal mining – is that one recorded number toward the end of the bon dance that everyone rushes to join. Fairly simple, this song is perfect for the first-time bon dance dancer. 

Are you an avid bon dance goer? Share with us your bon dance survival tips!