HONOLULU (KHON2) – I’m loving the fact that things are slowly starting to make its return since the start of the pandemic. 

Next on the list comes pn Saturday at the Mō’ili’ili Summer Fest at the old Varsity Theatre parking lot. 

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This is my first time ever learning about bon dance and the obon season. 

To find out more about the Mō’ili’ili Summer Fest, we’re here with the Artistic Director of the Taiko Center of the Pacific, Mr. Kenny Endo. Tell us a little bit about the Mō’ili’ili Summer Fest, what people can expect, and the role that it plays within the community here.

“Obon festivals are usually associated with the temple, and right here we have the Mō’ili’ili Hongwanji temple,” says Endo. “Their obon tradition goes back to over 100 years, but all over the islands we have the obon traditions.  We have 2 musical and dancing traditions that provide live music.  They have survived from Japan and are still played.  So, we are really lucky in Hawaii that we have these traditions still going.”

What is the whole point of a bon dance or the obon festival?

“Well, the obon, simply put, is a festival honoring your ancestors,” says Endo. “So, you are honoring your ancestors from way back, or even recently passed on relatives, and it’s a way of celebrating the cycles of life.  So, it’s not necessarily a sad event, but a celebration.”

So, tell us a little bit about the role you play.  You have been a taiko drummer for 45 years or more. What significance does taiko drumming play within this festival?

“Well, just in general in Japanese culture, the sound of the taiko is supposed to bring good luck and drive away evil spirits,” says Endo. “So, my group is going to be doing a performance at 6 p.m. separate from the dancers.  Just a taiko performance, and we don’t often have that chance to perform at obon so it’s a real honor for us.”

This is the return of the Mō’ili’ili Summer Fest right here at the old Varsity Theatre parking lot. 

This is Saturday, July 2 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

There are multiple parking options including up at UH at the Stan Sheriff where a trolley is provided.

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For all the information, visit the Moiliili Summer Fest website.