A custom that many Japanese continue to practice in Hawaii is, "gift giving." The Japanese in Hawaii will bring monetary gifts, leis, or food as a polite offering to friends and relatives. It is to say humbly, "thank you, I wish you well," or a way of sharing their love. This is called, omiyage.
The passing of an " old" year means that a new year will be bloomed. A lunar calendar was marked to help the Japanese know when the new year would come. The new year came at the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Spring was approximately around early February for them. In present time, the Japanese say that New Year starts before January and goes on for several weeks after. This period of time is not necessarily just for new years resolutions, but for a time of the doing of good deeds.
The Japanese would start the new year celebration with a tidy house and their wardrobe would be polished up again. Another thing Japanese like to do on New years is forgive, forget and be all smiles and friendly. It is a time for sending cards to relatives or close friends. The New year card making business is now very big in Japan. They have big parties that may extend for around two to three months which come after New years day. The Chinese tradition of bursting firecrackers on new years has been taken over by the Japanese in Hawaii. Many of the old Japanese practices for new years are continued on in Hawaii as well. Many go to shrines and temples to receive a blessing and to pray. New years is one of the many wonderful celebrations brought to Hawaii by the Japanese settlers.
Bon dancing is a part of the " bon festival " they have in Japan. It is a community celebration where people young and old come to enjoy the fun. In some places they are danced in a circle and in others they are danced a long single file line. These dances are held in different places and different times but always are in the months of July and August at the tradition time of the full moon. The churches at which the bon dances would be held at would set a time and date as to when the bon dance would be. Bon dances are traditionally from dusk to midnight. It is open to the public, participants or observers of this amazing Japanese tradition. What your attire should be when you attend a bon dance is a half length kimono called the Happi coat.
At a bon dance, they don't play music from a radio, they sing themselves or beat drums. A yagura or musicians tower is set up in the center of the open area and inside there are drums and microphones for people to sing. It is a wonderful opportunity for people of all ages to come and enjoy the popular Japanese traditions.