How did the Bon Dance in Hawaii start out, and what kind of succession and changes did it go through until it became to be in the present state we see today ?
[Before the WW2]
Early stages of immigration
Contracted group immmigrants called “Kan-yaku-imin (immigrants who immigrated by the immigration program mediated by the government)” started to immigrate to Hawaii.
The place they immigrated was “the sugar plowland”, in other words, Sugar Plantation. The vast sugar plantation was the place they worked. In the middle of the 19th century, “around 80% of the immigrants were workers in the plowland”
The central place of immigration in the early stages was not Oahu Island which is the center of Hawaii in the present days where Honolulu is located, but Hawaii Island which is located in the eastern end of the Hawaii Islands, and its size is as large as the other islands added all together, the so-called Big Island. It is the place where the so-called vast landscape of the countryside extends. It was also called the Sugar Islands.
“Bon Dance in the Sugar Plowland”
The first Bon Dance in Hawaii was also recorded in this “Sugar Plowland”.
“Bon Dance in the temples”
As we enter the 20th century, we see the age of Bon Dance in the Buddhist temples, the so-called “Bon dance in the temples”.
A real propagation by the Honpa Hongwanji (the so-called Nishi Hongwanji) started. More than 30 propagation center was established instantly in all the islands of Hawaii. Other denominations made an entrance. Bon Dance of the Buddhist temples that can be seen in the present Hawaii started, and in a short time, it began to form the main stream of Bon Dance in Hawaii
Then comes the “Gentleman’s Agreement”(The Japanese govement voluntarily limited the Japanese immigration to US exept for small number of merchants and students who were approved by the government) in 1908. There were signs of decline in the future of immigration to the US. However, the increase in the number of immigrants did not decline. On the other hand, the immigrants did not always stay in the first settlement, but moved inside Hawaii, or moved to other places in North America, and there were many that returned to Japan.
As we enter the 20th century, a big difference occur in the place of residence of the Japanese immigrants. They rapidly started to reside concentratedly in the cities. Immigrants gathered to Honolulu, the largest city in Hawaii, not only from Oahu Island but from all the islands of Hawaii. Also in other islands, the immigrants who finished their contracted labor in plowlands, tended to reside concentratedly in core cities (in case of Hawaii Island, Hilo).
In a short time, the ratio of workers in the plowland declines below 50%.
The so-called “the Asian Exclution Act” was enforced in 1924, and new immigrants to Hawaii and North America has stopped.１９２４
As concentrated inhabitation in cities proceed, job conversion advance, and the ratio of workers in plowland declines to below 10%
“The living standard of the Japanese-descents in Hawaii has exceeded that of the average of their homeland.” (quote from Dr. Nakahara)
The Buddhist temples seemed to advance into cities.
“The appearance of the Bon Dance in cities”
The fact that it is “urban culture”, and the movement of “media Bon Dance” in Japan’s mainland really synchronizes.
They were quick to adopt, Tokyo Ondo, for example.
Bon Dance in events started to appear newly as Bon Dance in cities, in addition to Bon Dance in Buddhist temples since the beginning of the 20th century. Dr. Nakahara calls this “Bon Dance of parade”, and distinguishes this from Bon Dance in temples by the the Japanese descents’ community.
[During the WW2] The war casted a dark shadow on Bon Dance.
Bon Dance was prohibited in the US.
Strangely enough, it was not officially prohibited in our country (Japan), but it was “voluntarily refrained”
[After the WW2] Bon Dance revives.
The famous “442 Kudoki” appears. This is the history of the Nisei.”The appearance of the Bon Dance Group”
Bon Dance of the Buddhist temples are the main stream as before.Bon Dance Groups, or the appearance of the so-called “Ren” synchronizes with the movement of the Bon Dance in Japan proper.It has the aspect of Diaspora Culture. They made contact with Japan proper. The collection of information became more and more active.
Bon Dance was actively created in Japan proper, and these dances were rapidly imported to Hawaii.
The fashion of the Media Series Ondo changed sharply.
Some Ondos (dances) are still danced in Hawaii, those dances that their fad had already passed , and there are no more dancers who dance that dance in Japan proper.
Also, there are imports of Ondos from North America, such as “Shinran Ondo” of Hongwanji.
Does a “Network of Bon Dance of overseas Hongwanji” exist, actually?”The creation of Ondos original to Hawaii”
The birth of “Hawaii Ondo”
They bring in hula
[Present times] It is a time when 6th generation of Japanese immigrants are born. It becomes multiethnic. Since new immigrants are few, the blood becomes gradually thinner.
In such circumstances, “Bon Dance” prospers more and more.Bon Dance becomes “multiethnic”
In multiethnic society Hawaii, Bon Dance grows into an open event which many nationals such as Hawaiians and white men and women can participate and enjoy the event.
“Bon Dance tour commodities” appear from about 5 years ago.Hawaii is the earliest place where Bon Dance of the immigrants were observed.
- 1.The distribution of Bon Dance in the overseas.
- 2.Bon Dance of Hawaii – The distribution and characteristics
- 3.The parent body and the participants of Bon Dance
- 4.The schedule of Bon Dance
- 5.The location of Bon Dance
- 6. ”Dance Tunes” and their types
- 7.The composition and fashion of Bon Dance
- 8.The composition of “Odori-kyoku”-Hondo type and Okinawan type
- 9. Bon Dancing in Hawaii : The lyrics and refrains
- 11.Talking about Bon Dance in Hawaii : Professor Judy Van Zile from The University of Hawaii