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Are you the type of traveler who likes to dig a little deeper past the most popular tourist attractions? Do you prefer to try to understand a place and to live like the locals? If so, then you probably want more than just beach and golf course recommendations on your trip to Maui. You want ways to participate in the culture of the island. If you plan to visit Maui between June and August, then you are in luck! During these months, we host our traditional Obon Festivals.

Our Japanese Heritage

Many first-time visitors to Maui may not realize that our island has strong Japanese roots, and that many of our residents are of Japanese heritage. While we do take a lot of pride in our native Hawaiian traditions, we also observe many Japanese traditions as well. One of those is the Obon Festival.

The Obon Festival is an ancient Buddhist celebration that first started on our island over 100 years ago. Today, it is still going strong. These festivals take place at Buddhist temples, including the Lahaina Shingon Mission, Paia Mantokuji Mission, Wailuku Hongwanji Mission, Kula Shofukuji Mission, and more.

Attending an Obon Festival

Each Obon Festival is different, but every one of them celebrates ancient Japanese culture. Many attendees wear traditional Japanese clothing such as kimonos, and most festivals include traditional dance performances, songs, and taiko drum performances. You may also get to see a beautiful and peaceful floating lantern ceremony and enjoy delicious dishes that are just as good today as they were hundreds of years ago.

Most tourists are unaware of Obon Festivals, so you may find yourself with a front-row seat to a magical experience to which very few outsiders are privy to. These festivals are also family friendly events, so don’t feel shy about taking your little ones along.

If you are staying at Ali’i Resorts, we can help you find times and dates of Obon Festivals near you. It will certainly be a unique cultural experience that you will love!