The Obon Music Project

Compiled by Paul Sakamoto

Based on a Buddhist text wherein a monk danced for joy after helping his mother’s spirit, the annual Obon Festival continues to thrive as a highlight of local communities worldwide. Today, people dance to honor those who have come before and show appreciation for living healthy, happy lives.

Thus, when the festival calendar was wiped bare due to COVID-19, the thought of the drums not ringing out this year was unimaginable, and temples everywhere have moved their festivals to an online format.  As a side-effect, the discussion of Bon-Odori music and copyright permissions has become a priority.

Copyright, licensing, and usage rights are already complicated but become exponentially more so when considering international copyright laws. To address this issue, several artists in the taiko community have graciously granted permission to compositions, performances, and recordings to be freely available for Obon festivals, both virtual and in-person. If you are planning an Obon festival in the future, please feel free to use any of the recordings listed below.

Thank you to the following artists who have contributed to this project:

Coordinator’s Note:  

It is my hope that this project can continue to grow, and there are several ways that people can help!

  1. Please support the artists who have contributed to this project.
  2. Consider submitting your own original music.
  3. Suggest leads or contacts to other artists that might be interested.

To contribute your own music or suggest leads to other artists who may be interested, please contact Paul Sakamoto at:




Aizu Bandaisan

Bambutsu no Tsunagari

Bambutsu no Tsunagari (tutorial)

Shiawase Samba

Reverend Koran Okahashi
Yuiyo Bon Odori
Yuiyo Bon Odori (documentary)

Obon in 2020

American Bon Consortium
Virtual Bon Dance #1
American Bon Consortium
Virtual Bon Dance #2
Puna Hongwanji
July 4, 2020
Puna Hongwanji
July 3, 2020
San Jose Obon
July 11, 2020
Berkeley Obon
July 11, 2020
75th Seabrook Obon
July 18, 2020
Mountain View
July 18-19, 2020
Seabrook Buddhist Temple Livestream
July 25, 2020
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