When the Japanese holiday of Obon came to Hawai’i, it expanded into a whole season. There is a different Obon Dance every weekend all summer here, hosted by temples all over the islands. This photo was taken at the 2013 Bon Dance at the Honpa Hongwanji Hawaii Betsuin temple in Honolulu. While the many dancers encircled around wearing kimonos, happi coats, and street clothes, I tried to capture a sense of their movement by experimenting with different exposure times and camera angles. The variety of different kinds of traditional bon dances (and even a few modern ones) amidst a live musical performance is one of the many highlights of Obon season.
Special companions are those who stay with us, even when we can’t be physically together. The bond that connects us is something that can transcend distance, and even the cycle of life and death.
At the Lantern Floating Festival in Honolulu on Memorial Day 2013, this little girl carries a lantern down to the water to release into the ocean. The lantern is in loving memory of someone close to her who has passed on, but it is also in honor of the special connection that the two of them have.
The first Friday of every month can be a fun time to wander down to Honolulu’s Chinatown. Not only can some great authentic Chinese food be found, but multiple art galleries have open houses which are very nice to stroll through. The content changes from month to month, and each gallery features different styles and artists, so there is always something interesting for everyone. I love meandering through galleries, enjoying and being inspired by the art pieces, while soaking in the casual atmosphere and sipping on the subtle flavors of the mint-lemon water that is a popular refreshment and many of the galleries (some also offer stronger drinks for a price).
Last night, one such gallery that I visited was the Louis Pohl Gallery. There was a certain softness in most of the art pieces, from peaceful beachscapes, to people enjoying halcyon days, and even in boiling volcanoes. The delicate blend of colors and shapes gave many of the pieces a feeling of familiarity. This month, they also were giving free Hanafuda lessons and promoting the new Hawai’i-style Hanafuda cards that were designed to introduce a new generation to an old game brought to Hawai’i by Japanese plantation workers. The game is easy to pick up, and the little “flower cards” (upgraded from the original woodblock by a local artist) are beautiful to behold.
Have any of you been to the art galleries on First Friday? Where do you like to go and why?
This art piece illustrates the Lantern Festival, as it takes place in Hawai’i. The Lantern Festival has its origins in Buddhist ceremonies to honor the deceased. In Japan, the practice came to be associated with the end of Obon, a celebration of ancestors. Once the practice came to Hawai’i, it came to be celebrated on Memorial Day, tying in with the holiday traditions of honoring men and women who died in the armed forces, and is celebrated by people of all backgrounds. The practice is environmentally friendly – all lanterns are gathered after the ceremony and reused.
The ceremony is quite moving. Live musical performances build up the mood. As the sun sets, the first few lanterns are released, soon followed by thousands of other lanterns. Each lantern has panels inscribed with the names of loved ones now passed. Family members carefully approach the water, sometimes with tears welling in their eyes, as they lovingly set the lantern on its journey. Soon the whole bay is a glow with thousands of shimmering lanterns all swaying gently with the waves and currents as they slowly move out with the tide. The crowd gazes on, memorized, until the lanterns are little luminous specks in the distance.
As the sun set over the horizon, things at the Honolulu Museum of Art were just starting to heat up. Bus loads of museum visitors all lined up outside, everyone decked out in their Halloween finest. The costumes were many and varied, ranging from couples costumes like Aladdin and Jasmine, to Egyptian Pharaohs, superheroes, magical witches, zombies,
Aromas from appetizing foods wafted through the halls, and music blared from the live performances. Despite the entrance line going down the block, once inside the museum didn’t seem overly crowded. Besides, it was easy enough to duck into one of the exhibit halls for a little peace and serenity – as well as for stunning works of art spanning millennia from all over the world. There is something fun about walking amongst ancient statues as Captain Hook meanders around nearby. Each person in costume is their own work of art, and events like this are a chance to enjoy the living art as well as the paintings on the wall.