Press "Enter" to skip to content

NEA awards $20,000 grants to Hanapepe Soto Zen Temple

HANAPEPE — The Hanapepe Soto Zen Temple announced Monday that the temple has been approved by the National Endowment for the Arts for a $20,000 Grants for Arts Project award that will support the Soto Zen Bon Festival.

The grant approval is one of 1,251 Grants for Arts Projects that total nearly $28.8 million that was announced by the NEA as part of its first round of fiscal year 2023 grants.

“I think the NEA recognized our preservation efforts in our folk traditions here on Kaua‘i, and our outreach into the community,” said Hanapepe Soto Zen Temple President Gerald Hirata.

“During our Bon festival, we celebrate our cultural heritage through our plantation immigrant experience and continue to enjoy the unique festival food faire that is found nowhere else. The ‘hole hole bushi’ genre of songs sung by women working in the cane fields, and flying saucers, an original festival food item that originated at the temple in the 1950s, are two examples of our folk culture that is underscored by the NEA grant.”

Hirata’s statements were recently highlighted during the visit of Suo Oshima, Yamaguchi Prefecture, Japan visiting delegation that included more than 60 high school students, government dignitaries, and a television crew for newscasting and gathering material for a documentary.

“The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support arts projects in communities, nationwide,” said NEA Chair Maria Rosario Jackson. “Projects such as this one with the Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple strengthen arts and cultural ecosystems, provide equitable opportunities for arts participation and practice, and contribute to the health of our communities and our economy.”

Hirata, in conjunction with the NEA grant announcement, said the Hanapepe Soto Zen Temple will host its Bon festival on June 16-17 at its Hanapepe location. This is the second of six bon dances that have been scheduled by the Kaua‘i Buddhist Council since the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. The first bon dance is scheduled for June 9-10 at the Kapa‘a Hongwanji Mission.

Project Director Ed Goka said, “This grant is a huge honor for the Kaua‘i Soto Zen Temple, and the community. It acknowledges that what we are doing here on this island, although it may appear very ordinary for us, is quite extraordinary because of its value and significance to our community, and to the visitors and guests that will be coming to experience the Soto Zen Bon Festival.”

For more information on other projects included in the NEA grant announcement, visit where there is a state by state listing of grant awardees, and another breakdown by grant category or discipline.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or
Source: The Garden Island

Be First to Comment

    Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: