In ①, we have been looking over what types of “Odori-kyoku” there are in Bon Dance in Hawaii. Now, let’s look from the viewpoint of what kind of composition was each Bon Dance (=the unit of holding the festival) made up of. There are mainly 2 characteristic types in the composition of Odori-kyoku of the Bon Dance in Hawaii; “Okinawan type” and the rest of it which is called “Hondo (mainland) type”.

  The composition of “Odori-kyoku”-Hondo type and Okinawan type


1. The composition of Odori-kyoku in “Hondo type”

Most of the Bon Dance in Hawaii will fall into this type, and it was named “Hondo type” to the contrast with the characteristic “Okinawan type”


Chart 1   The example of composition of the “Hondo type” Odori-kyoku



Pearl City Hongwanji (2008)



Hilo Higashi Hongwanji (2008)


Hawaii Shingon Betsuin (2008)


Hawaii Shingon Betsuin (1970)


Traditional type Odori-kyoku Fukushima Ondo Fukushima Ondo Fukushima Ondo (We didn’t actually see it

Iwakuni Ondo

(Nikudan San Yushi, Sakuma Teicho)

Fukushima Ondo

Iwakuni Ondo

Yagi Bushi Ondo (live version)

  Shinran Ondo


Tokyo Ondo

Tanko Bushi

Tokiwa Tanko Bushi

Yagi Bushi (recording reproduction version)

Chanchiki Okesa


Dai Niigata Ondo (Details are unknown)


Asadoya Yunta



And many other modern type Odori-kyoku


Shinran Ondo


Tokyo Ondo

Tanko Bushi


Yagi Bushi(recording reproduction version)

Beautiful Sunday

Matsuken Samba


21 Seiki Ondo





Hawaii Ondo


And many other modern type Odori-kyoku























Many other modern type Odori-kyoku

Daishi Ondo


Nihon Yoitoko

Heiwa Ondo

Tokiwa Tanko Bushi

Yagi Bushi (recording reproduction version)

Shirahama Ondo

Aizu Bandai San

Kagoshima Ohara Bushi

Tebyoushi Ondo

Hokkai Bon Uta

Ishikaze (Kazeishi?) Yosare

Tsugaru Jinku


This chart was created according to the result of our coverage and the background material 1.


The above chart shows the 3 Modern Bon Dances that we actually visited, and sampled 1 Bon Dance at random from the records around 1970, and it shows the composition of Odori-kyoku which have the composition of “Hondo type”


The location and time differ in these examples, but still we can see the pattern of the composition of Odori-kyoku in “Hondo type”. For example, Fukushima Ondo and Iwakuni Ondo are popular throughout the time in “Traditional type Odori-kyoku”. And in the other hand, Modern type Odori-kyoku have various styles.


As times go by, the composition of Odori-kyoku have become more and more various. The variety of “Odori-kyoku” before the WW 2 was fewer in number than today, and in some cases “they danced all night with only Fukushima Ondo”*1


“The number of times they perform the Odori-kyoku” is the barometer of popularity


We must pay attention to “the number of times they perform the Odori-kyoku”, that is, how many times they dance each Odori-kyoku in one night, not just paying attention to the composition (types) of Odori-kyoku. Traditional type Odori-kyoku such as “Fukushima Ondo” which is especially popular are in a special frame, and the pattern is that they perform once in the first half and another time in the second half.


On the other hand, in Modern type Odori-kyoku, there are often cases in which people repeatedly dance a same song at several times (There are Odori-kyoku that people dance only once in one night’s performance). The number of times they perform the “Odori-kyoku” is the barometer of popularity because it can be considered that the more they perform, the more popular the song is.


Songs like Tanko Bushi and Matsuken Samba were played many times and people enjoyed the songs.


Bon Dances that have the composition of “Hondo type”


(August 8, 2008, Pearl City Oahu island) (August 9, 2008, Hilo Hawaii Island)


2 The composition of Odori-kyoku in “Okinawan type”


Next, let’s look over the composition of Odori-kyoku in the “Okinawan type”.


Chart 2  The composition of Odori-kyoku in the “Okinawan type” Bon Dance


    Jikoen Hongwanji Bon Dance
    Hon-choshi* Ichi-ni A-ge*
Traditional type Odori-kyoku Core Part Nembutsu Odori


Suurii Agari Bushi

Tenyoo Bushi


Danku Bushi

Akayama Bushi

New Part Tootankaani

Ichi Hanari Bushi

Modern type Odori-kyoku New Part Ayagu Bushi

Ashi Binaa

Ashimiji Bushi
Rather Lately Asadoya Yunta

Deigo Ondo

Okinawa Sodachi

*The types of the tuning of the three strings


The chart above was made according to the background material 4.



The examples introduced in the above chart are that of the Bon Dance in “Jikoen Hongwanji” in Honolulu Oahu Island known for having strong relation with the Japanese descents from Okinawa. At the first glance, we can notice a big difference with the “Hondo type”.


By the way, today, a Bon Dance that is held in a unit that has a composition of Odori-kyoku in an “Okinawan type” is only in here, Jikoen Hongwanji. However, before the WW 2, there was an “Okinawan type” Bon Dance in “Hilo Hongwanji” in Hawaii Island, “Makalei Higashi Hongwanji”, “Honolulu Buddhist Temple”, “Hawaii Buddhist Temple” in Oahu Island, and after the WW 2, there was this kind of dance in “Honolulu Nembutsu-doh”*2.


Okinawan type-The “Depth” of Traditional type Odori-kyoku


The big difference between the Okinawan type and Hondo type is the large number of Traditional type dance in Okinawan type after all.

While the Traditional type Odori-kyoku of the “Hondo type” is limited to around 3 types, “Okinawa type” has a wide variety of repertory. Among “Traditional type”, there are core parts and those that came in rather lately, and as for the core parts of Odori-kyoku there are numbers that are common with those which are danced in Eisah nearby Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture today. On the other hand, the repertory of Modern type joined in after the Traditional type, though among those there seems to be another distinction between those which joined in very lately.*3


Before the WW 2, they suffered a double discrimination by the white ruling class and Japanese immigrants from Hondo (the mainland Japan). But in the other hand, it can be considered that the originality of the community (and the ethnic group) of Okinawa known for the strength of its unity and that of loving the folk entertainment have cultivated the composition of Odori-kyoku of the Bon Dance like these.


The origin of the Okinawan Traditional Odori-kyoku

Dr. Naoko Takeuchi has announced a valuable research product, searching for the origin of these Okinawan Traditional Odori-kyoku


There are the following 4 types in the Eisah that can be seen today in Okinawa according to the sex of the dancer, the aspect of the dance, the type of musical accompaniments.


Chart 3   The types of Traditional Eisah in Okinawa


  Area Participants Aspect Musical Accompaniment Notes
Choreography Formation
Type 1 Northern Part of the Main Island of Okinawa Only women Te Odori (A dance that they dance without props in their hands) Wa Odori (People make a circle and turn the circle around while dancing) “Chijin (A small Byou-uchi-daiko)”     





Type 2   Men and women mixed Te Odori (A dance that they dance without props in their hands) Wa Odori (People make a circle and turn the circle around while dancing) “Uta-Sanshin” (Sanshin)      





Type 3   Mainly men Taiko Odori (Each people have a drum, and dance to the beat of the drum) (Shime-daiko, Byou-uchi-daiko) Retsu Odori (People stand in a row and dance.)  




In many cases, Taiko-Odori is followed by Te-Odori of  young women or men and women together.
Type 4   Mainly men Taiko Odori (Each people have a drum, and dance to the beat of the drum) (Pahranku: A small single –sided drum) Retsu Odori (People stand in a row and dance.)                



In some cases, Te-Odori of men and women come along.


The chart above was created according to the background material 4.


The origin of Traditional Eisah might be around Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture


Dr. Takeuchi says that Bon Dance of Jikoen Hongwakuji is closest to type 2 (Eisah around Motobu, Nachijin, Nago) of the chart above, for it has the characteristics such as “men and women dance along”, “make a circle”, “Te-Odori is the basics of the dance”


Further, as a result of the comparison of the composition of the program on the Traditional Odori-kyoku excluding Shin Minyo (Modern Odori-kyoku), she concludes that “Eisah (or its parent organization) around Nago City may have been the basis of Okinawan Odori-kyoku in Hawaii”, as it includes “Nachijinjo”, “Ichihanari Bushi”, “Akayama Bushi” which are flourishing in Nago, and north of Motobu peninsula.*4


This is a very interesting study which proved the area of origin of the export of Traditional Odori-kyoku in Hawaii.*4


地図 カウアイ島 Kauai Island オアフ島 Oahu Islandホノルル Honolulu

モロカイ島 Molokai Islandマウイ島 Maui Islandラナイ島 Lanai Island

ヒロ Hilo ハワイ島 Hawaii Island 名護市 Nago City


If you mention the Eisah near Nago, the “Yofuke Eisah” which we visited in 2003 is known for being the representative of them. We feel a curious turn of fate to meet Eisah in Hawaii which is in the same system with Traditional Eisah of Okinawa, we visited some time ago.





These two Eisah comes from the same origin.


(August 8, 2008, Pearl City, Oahu Island)  (August 13, 2008 Yofuke, Nago City, Okinawa Prefecture)         


The composition of Odori-kyoku that are metamorphosed


The composition of “Okinawan” Odori-kyoku has a distinctive feature as we see, however, we are seeing a big change in recent years, and the fact is paid attention to.


According to the research of Dr. Takeuchi, people used to dance basically Te-Odori, and wore yukata and kasuri (kimono with patterns and images in its fabric) in the Bon Dance in Jikoen Hongwanji, but in these days, an influence of a brave Taiko (drum) Eisah (falls in to “type 3” of chart 3) which is being popular near the mainland Okinawa can be seen.


As we enter into the 1990’s, the members of the Young Okinawans, a Bon Dance Club that includes a lot of young people started to dance inside the circle of Te-Odori wearing “Uchikake”, “Manzaji”, “Kyahan” while beating Shime-daiko and O-Daiko. While going along with the traditional dance, it is making up a brave atmosphere that the young people like.


This kind of change extends to the relation between Hondo type Bon Dance.

In Jikoen, “Hondo type” Odori-kyoku is adopted into the composition of the Odori-kyoku. On the other hand, it is invited in the occasion of a “Hondo type” Bon Dance and it introduces Taiko-odori and Okinawan type Odori-kyoku. We visited Pearl City Hongwanji, and in this temple, an Okinawan group introduced Eisah, but it was impressive that the members performed a dynamic Fukushima Ondo.


The 3rd, 4th, 5th generations of Japanese descendants are bearing the Bon Dance, and the classification between “Hondo type” and “Okinawan type” is gradually becoming less distinct. We must pay attention to what kind of changes the composition of Odori-kyoku in Hawaii will be making in the future.



■  The actor- “Bon Dance Club” and “Folk Dance Club”


There is a core actor in the Bon Dance in Hawaii, just like the “Hozonkai (conservation association)” and “Mimburen (folk dance federation)” in the Bon Dance in Japan. In general terms, “Bon Dance Club” corresponds to the Traditional type Odori-kyoku and “Folk Music Dance Club” to the Modern type Odori-kyoku.


Bon Dance Club


In order to perform Traditional type Odori-kyoku, the people who supplies “live music” will be needed.


These music could be “self-supported” within the fold of the party in the times of the first generation of Japanese descents who were fluent in Japanese, who knew the songs and dances very well, and who had the experience of drums and flutes. However, as the generation changes, Japanese literacy of even the Japanese descents become uncertain, so they will have to complete the chorus leader, the accompanist, and the dancers deliberately. Therefore, today, each Traditional Odori-kyoku is supplied and managed by the “Bon Dance Club” which has a certain number of skilled members.


Chart 4   Traditional type Odori-kyoku and representative Bon Dance Club


Traditional type Odori-kyoku Bon Dance Club
Fukushima Ondo Fukushima Bon Dance Club

(Honolulu, Hilo)

Iwakuni Ondo Iwakuni Ondo Aiko-kai

Iwakuni Bon Dance Club

Eisah type Odori-kyoku Higa Masatada Bon Dance Club

Young Okinawan


These Bon Dance Clubs took the form after the WW 2, but according to Dr. Yukari Nakahara, the model has already appeared before the WW 2, in the 1930’s *5.


Also, it seems that before the WW 2, a sense of rivalry was strong between the prefectures they come from, but after the WW 2, the members are not always limited to the area they come from or the area of origin. However, it is characteristic that in the Okinawan type Odori-kyoku, people from Okinawa prefecture are still the main members of the party.


写真 The members of the Bon Dance Club play an active part in supporting the Traditional type Odori-kyoku


left: Hilo Fukushima Bon Dance Club   right: Iwakuni Ondo Aiko-Kai

(August 9, 2008, Hilo, Hawaii Island)    (August 8, 2008, Ala Moana, Oahu Island)


Modern type Odori-kyoku and “Folk song dance club”


On the other hand, the “Folk song dance club” played a major role in importing “Modern type Odori-kyoku” from the mainland Japan. Those that were formed in the rather early stages were “Hawaii Bon Dance Club” (today it is broken up), “Yamada Bon Dance Club” (Honolulu: A folk song dance group that is led by Mr. Mabel Yamada who is the master of Fujima-ryu dance). It can be considered that it is in a way, a parallel existence with the organization such as “Minyo Minbu Renmei (Folk Dance Federation)” in Japan.  


These groups quickly grasp the information on the new works of Folk dance type Odori-kyoku that are announced in Japan every year, in some cases design the choreography, and guide the practice before the performance. Through these deeds, they are playing an important role in the import and reception of the Odori-kyoku.


*1 Please refer to the background material 2.

*2 Please refer to the background material 4.

*3 Please refer to the background material 4.

*4 Please refer to the background material 4.

*5 Please refer to the background material 2.


<<Background Materials>>

1.”Sketches of Japanese American’s Life in Hawaii” written by Ueta Kisaburo, 1970 太平洋学会誌第91号, 2002

  1. ”ハワイ日系人のボン・ダンスの変遷” written by Yukari Nakahara (included in “民俗音楽の課題と方法” written and edited by Nobuo Mizuno and published by 世界思想社, 2002)
  2. Van Zile, Judy. The Japanese Bon Dance in Hawaii. Honolulu: Press Pacifica 1982

4.”ハワイの沖縄系”盆踊り”沖縄文化第36巻第1号 written by Naoko Terauchi, 2000