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"Obon" Special Airs on Memorial Day on HPR-2

Keith Haugen in yukata
Keith Haugen

Keith Haugen, known to many as a Hawaiian music songwriter and performer, became interested in the traditional obon celebration in the 1950s, while stationed in Japan as a U.S. Army photographer.  He enjoyed donning a yukata and geta, and participating in bon odori events that were part of a community relations program to bring together the American military community and Japanese who lived in towns near the military bases.  He recalled that these were fun events, and no one seemed to care if you were Japanese or not, or even if you were Buddhist. Years later, he researched obon and the toro nagashi, floating of lanterns, that takes place at the end of the obon season.

In 2006, Haugen wrote, narrated, and produced a special on this popular Japanese bon odori tradition for HPR. As regular as the celebrations themselves, "Obon" has aired on Hawai?i Public Radio every year since then.

This year, "Obon" will air on HPR-2, Monday, May 3o, Memorial Day, at 7:00 p.m.  (BBC News will be preempted.)
Haugen's one-hour program discusses this Japanese Buddhist tradition, the meanings of the songs, changes, and the waning religious aspect of the celebration. "Obon" also gives listeners a sample of some of the most popular minyo, Japanese folk songs, that are danced in obon festivals in Japan, Hawai?i, and other countries where Japanese have settled.

A recognized expert on the subject, Haugen is invited every year to speak on obon to various organizations. This year, he will be at the Kane?ohe Higashi Hongwanji Mission, on Tuesday, June 28, at 6:30 p.m. The presentation is free and open to the public.

Keith Haugen at Palama obon
Keith Haugen at Palama obon event, about 10 years ago.

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