Enjoy delicious Japanese foods, entertainment, games for children, bonsai and ikebana exhibits, and Japanese goods and crafts for sale. Food choices include tempura prepared by chefs from local Japanese restaurants, sushi, beef teriyaki, udon, kushi katsu (fried pork), gyoza (steamed dumpling with ground pork and vegetables), Asian hot dogs, kuri manju (baked dessert with sweet bean filling), strawberry shortcake and ice cream. Gluten-free chicken karaage (fried chicken) will be available this year.
Day-long entertainment features taiko drumming, martial arts demonstrations, tea ceremony, and Japanese classical dancers.
In the evening, the colorful Bon Odori, or community Japanese folk dancing, takes place. The day wraps up with a $2,000 grand prize raffle drawing. This is a free event, donations accepted. Parking is available across the street from the temple.
The Obon festival is a Buddhist tradition to celebrate, remember and express gratitude to all family members who have died. It has been celebrated in Japan since 657 AD. The first Obon in the United States was held in Hawaii in 1910; festivals on the mainland began about 20 years later. 2015 marks the 70th year of the Obon Festival on the Monterey Peninsula.
The first Monterey Obon was held on Aug. 25, 1947 at the JACL Hall in Monterey. The event was moved in 1963 to the Monterey County Fairgrounds, where it was held for 30 years. The Obon Festival returned to the temple in 1993. As many as 3,000 to 5,000 people from across the Monterey Peninsula and beyond attend each year.
The Monterey Buddhist Temple’s history began over 80 years ago. It wasn’t until after World War II that regular services and activities were held at the JACL Hall on Adams Street in Monterey. In 1958, the lot on Noche Buena was purchased, and the temple was completed in 1965. The Japanese garden surrounding the temple was landscaped entirely by the members and took eight months to complete.
In 1976, disaster struck. One of the biggest fires in Seaside history completely destroyed the temple. When news of the misfortune spread, contributions came from every part of the country. Seventeen months after the fire, the Monterey Peninsula Buddhist Temple was rebuilt and rededicated in June 1977. Currently, services are held Sunday morning and are open to the public.