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Obon Celebrations on Two Weekends in San Diego

Public Bon Odori at Balboa Park’s Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

SAN DIEGO — Buddhist Temple of San Diego will present two Obon events over the next two weekends.

Hatsubon service will be held at BTSD, 2929 Market St. in San Diego, on Sunday, July 28, at 2 p.m., followed by Obon Festival for temple members and families from 4 to 7 p.m. with Bon Odori at 6:30 p.m.

On Friday, Aug. 2, the Japanese Friendship Garden in San Diego’s Balboa Park, 2215 Pan American Rd. East, will host a Toro Nagashi (floating lantern) event from 12 to 8 p.m. Lanterns will be lit to honor loved ones who have passed away. Garden admission is required.

Make your own lanterns to either take home or set afloat. Lanterns will be sold at the Inamori Pavilion on a first-come, first-served basis. Lantern-making kits will only be available until 5 p.m. Lantern floating is scheduled for 3 and 7 p.m. at the lower garden.

On Saturday, Aug. 3, an Obon Festival will be held in the Japanese Friendship Garden from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. with food, craft vendors, community group booths, special exhibits and entertainment. Admission is required.

Food will include chicken skewers, somen salad, rice and taiyaki. Beverages will also be sold.

The O Bon Again Shop will sell gently used Japanese clothing, art and other items. Proceeds will benefit the temple’s scholarship fund.

Vendors will include Kodama Forest, Finest City Kettlecorn, and Wabi Sabi Japan Living.

BTSD and the Japanese Friendship Garden will present Bon Odori, free and open to the public, in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Entertainment starts at 4 p.m. At 6:15 p.m., Rev. Kenji Akahoshi will speak about the significance of Obon. Dancing will take place from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. Naruwan Taiko will perform during intermission, followed by more dancing from 7:45 to 8:45 p.m.

Dances to be performed: “Bon Odori Uta,” “Kyo mo Egao de Konnichiwa” (ribbon poles), “Goshugi Ondo,” “Shin Nagasaki Nonnoko Bushi” (kachi kachi), “Oyama Ondo,” “Shigisan Ondo” (tenugui), “Narita Bayashi,” “Okesa Utaeba” (uchiwa), “Bambutsu no Tsunagari” (uchiwa), “Memanbetsu Bayashi,” “Pokemon Ondo,” “Mottainai” (tenugui), “Hokkai no Abarembo,” “Shiawase Samba,” “Ichi Tasu Ichi,” “Beautiful Sunday,” “Kyushu Tanko Bushi.”

Dance practices will be held on Thursday, July 25 and Aug. 1, at 7 p.m. at the temple.

For more information, contact BTSD at (619) 239-0896 or or visit For information on the garden, call (619) 232-2721 or visit

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