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 was unimaginable, and temples everywhere moved their festivals to an online format.  As a side-effect, the discussion of Bon-Odori music and copyright permissions became 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.

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

Asadoya Yunta

Bambutsu no Tsunagari

Ei Ja Nai Ka

Genki Ondo

Gezan Bayashi

Hokkai Bon Uta 


Ohara Bushi


Shiawase Samba

Sohma Bon Uta

Tanko Bushi

Tozan Matsuri

Yagi Bushi

Yuiyo Bon Odori

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

Obon 2020

Mountain View

Seabrook Buddhist Temple