Bon Odori

Ringing of the bell at the start of the Bon Odori festival, Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple.

Festivals, People, Places

Seattle Betsuin Buddhist Temple held its annual Bon Odori festival July 19 and 20. Bon Odori is a Japanese Buddhist tradition which honors the spirits of ancestors and serves to remind the living of the gratefulness we should feel toward them. Celebrating remembrance, Reverend Don Castro of Seattle Betsuin conducted the traditional Obon service, which includes chanting and offerings to deceased family members, for relatives and friends who had lost loved ones in the past year. The festival itself is a time to celebrate life with traditional Japanese dress, music, dancing, and taiko drumming. Seattle Betsuin’s Bon Odori also features displays of Japanese crafts, traditional food, and contemporary jazz in the popular beer and sake garden.

Bon Odori

Taiko drumming, always a Bon Odori festival favorite.

Obon celebrations were also held in late July and early August at other Jodo Shinshu centers in the Northwest, including the Spokane Buddhist Temple, Tacoma Buddhist Temple, White River Buddhist Temple (Auburn, WA), and Portland Buddhist Temple.


Dai Bai Zan Cho Bo Zen Ji Rinzai temple in Seattle hosted Kevin Kim of "Kevinswalk" in mid-June. Kim is walking across the United States on a quest to explore religious diversity, visiting churches, mosques, temples, sanghas and what will eventually be a vast array of individuals along his route. During his stay at Choboji he interviewed Osho Genjo Marinello. That interview—and a great deal more of interest!—can be found on the "Kevinswalk" blog. The homepage is: To read the Genjo Marinello interview, visit:


Ready for a long inquiry into religious diversity.


The Tibetan Nuns Project welcomes former Northwest Dharma Association president, Steve Wilhelm, to its Board of Directors. Of his new role Steve says, "I very much care about monastics and I'm very aware that women have never been given the resources or training that men have. When TNP arrived in Seattle I started volunteering, stuffing envelopes and putting stickers on things, and it led to the board. I look forward to doing something more international, more toward helping those materially less fortunate than I. This seemed a good way to pull it all together."


Groundbreaking for Gotami House at Sravasti Abbey in Newport, WA, began at the end of June with the bulldozing of a required fire road into the site. The next step will be excavation for septic and utility lines. Named for the Buddha’s aunt, founder of the first Nuns’ Order, the future monastic residence will expand opportunities for practice and ordination in the Northwest.


Two senior teachers in the Theravadin lineage of Ajahn Chah visited the Seattle area in July. Ajahn Sumedho gave Dharma talks to the Seattle Insight Meditation Society and at Wat Atammayatarama in Woodinville. Ajahn Sumedho, a native of the United States, is abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Centre in West Sussex, England. Ajahn Candasiri, one of the first four siladaras (ten-precept nuns) to ordain under Ajahn Sumedho, visited and taught under the auspices of the Saranaloka Foundation.

Tan Pavaro of Si-tavana (Birken Forest Monastery), a Theravada Buddhist Monastery in the Thai Forest Tradition in British Columbia, conducted a day of mindfulness at Bodhi House in Olympia on July 5th. Ven. Pavaro began his monastic training at Birken in 2001. He received his full ordination in November 2003, with Ajahn Pasanno, co-abbot of Abhayagiri Buddhist Monastery, as preceptor (upajjhaya), and Ajahn Sona as his teacher (acariya).

Contributors: Kate Forster, David & Kathy Forsythe, Julie Welch.

Photos: Bon Odori courtesy of Seatlle Betsuin Buddhist Church. "Kevinswalk" courtesy of Kevin Kim.