Namu Amida Butsu
On the island of Maui, Obon festivities began the first weekend of June with a service and dance at the Lahaina Shingon Mission. These activities will be held at a Buddhist temple weekly, and it will continue until the last weekend of August.
Isn’t it funny that we may not see our friends for a whole year, but during the Obon season, we see them weekly at the various temples participating in the Obon services and dances. All of them enjoy dancing at the festival.
Before the dance begins, many people participate in the Obon services. These services are for all of us to pay our respects to our loved one’s Hatsu-bon service. It also provides us with the opportunity to listen to the teachings of the Buddha Dharma.
As you know, most temples have Obon dances after the service, and it is fun and enjoyable for the local people. Beside the local dancers, you see dancers who are visiting from the other islands or from the mainland. You see visitors from around the world taking in the local culture. Bon dancing is a very important summer cultural event not only in Hawaii but in other places where Buddhist temples are located.
Everyone wears their colorful "Yukata" or "Happi" and dances to their favorite Japanese folk music. Most dancers smile as they dance; using their entire bodies and enjoying as they dance.
Beside the dance, selling snacks is a local tradition; most temples have their specialty. In fact, many of them firmly believe that their special dish is the best of the best; even though other temples may sell a similar item. In fact, many people look forward to having their once-a-year special dish during the Obon season.
A word that Japanese use often in their daily lives is called "Kansha." It may be translated as “To thank, to be grateful, to be appreciative, to appreciate, thank you to, thank you for, to express one’s gratitude.” On Maui, we have the Kansha Preschool; it uses "Kansha" in its name.
As I stated, this word may be used in many different ways—"Appreciation" or "So grateful" or "Thanks" or "Gratitude." So the Kansha Preschool may mean "Being grateful or thankful" preschool—being thankful to the Nisei Veterans. It is expressing one’s true appreciation or thankfulness.
In other words, the true meaning of gratitude, could be "Okagesama" and "Mottainai" in a Japanese mind or feeling. I think these phrases "Okagesama" and "Mottainai" have a much deeper and wider meaning, which include expressing one’s true gratitude and appreciation.
In the past, people often used the word "Mottainai" meaning "too precious to waste." In our daily lives, especially among the younger generation, they miss “the mind of appreciation.” Somehow, they may have forgotten some of the very important lessons of “Okagesama” and “Mottainai” when they were taught to them by their parents and grandparents.
Have you been to Japan and seen the rice field during the month of September? It looks like a golden carpet. One of the wonderful Japanese sayings, "Minoreba minoruhodo atamano sagaru inaho kana." It can be translated as follows: "The more you are blessed by Mother Nature, the more you will see the full crops on the top of the plant, and it deeply bends more than others to express their gratitude." This phrase explains to us that the more you become wise and a greater person, you always bow your head to express your true and sincere feeling of gratitude and appreciation to the conditions you have received. These people are always humble, kind, and offer their sincere support to people who are weaker than others
Namo Amida Butsu