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BCA has a rich history of chanting and music that is incorporated into temple services and special events. The spread of Mahayana Buddhism from India through Asia to Japan and then to America is reflected by hymns sung in Pali, chanting and music composed in Japanese, and English-language music developed in Hawaii and the mainland United States since the 1920s.

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BCA Music Committee Newsletter

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For the latest bon odori song and dance commissions "Lantern Song" and "Kangie" and many other audio recordings, please check out the Obon: Gathering of Joy webpage:

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American Bon Odori: Commemorative Cultural Arts Series

BCA Music Sponsorship Donation Opportunities

BCA Music YouTube Channel

Now featured on the BCA Music YouTube channel is a new "Lantern Song" playlist to view the new music video and previous lyric video, dance tutorial, and the "Creation of Lantern Song" webinar by Bonbu Stories.

Lantern Song

Lantern Song

Lantern Song
Lantern Song (Official Music Video)- Bonbu Stories

Lantern Song (Official Music Video)- Bonbu Stories

Play Video
Lantern Song

Lantern Song

Play Video
Lantern Song with lyrics

Lantern Song with lyrics

Play Video


Temple services also include gathas (songs). Lyrics may contain poems/verses from Buddhist texts or be based on Buddhist themes. Composition styles range from traditional hymnal music to more contemporary sounds, and reflect the contributions of many Shin Buddhist musicians, ministers, and members. Gathas are sung together as a sangha, sometimes featuring an accompanist and group of singers or choir.

Perhaps the most notable gathas originating from Japan are Ondokusan I, Ondokusan II, and Shinshu Shuka. Both versions of Ondokusan are based on a poem (wasan) written by Shinran Shonin to express deep gratitude for the compassion of the Buddha and all of our dharma teachers. Shinshu Shuka (Anthem) debuted in 1923 in honor of the 700th Anniversary of the Jodo Shinshu teaching's establishment. These three gathas were recorded and copyrighted by BCA Records by the late opera vocalist Mika Shigematsu with piano accompaniment by Rae Imamura as companion audio recordings for the BCA Shin Buddhist Service Book in 1994.

For the Obon season, the additional featured Japanese gatha is Obon no Uta and the English gathas Obon, Obon, It's Festival Day by Yumi Hojo and the choral recording of Festival by Chico Taira recorded by the Pacific Mozart Ensemble in addition to Nembutsu by Osamu Shimizu.  Music recording copyright is held by BCA Records.



Gagaku, the oldest orchestral tradition in the world, is imperial Japanese court music performed for special services in Shinto and Buddhist temples. Gagaku was introduced into Japan along with Buddhism around 600-700 ACE from China and Korea. Incorporated into Shin Buddhist liturgy in the 17th century, gagaku is used in processional music and in some formal chants.

A dharma message by Rev. Katsuya Kusunoki with more information on gagaku is available here:



The contribution of music has been invigorated recently by a new BCA Ad Hoc Music Committee established in 2020. The Music Committee has a broad scope of work, with many subcommittees for various areas of music at our temples. Future plans include documenting and sharing music history and recorded music on this website to support temple services.

To experience the range of music at BCA temples, watch the Seattle Betsuin 12th Annual Music Service, which includes sutra music, gathas in Japanese and English, and contemporary musical offerings.

Lantern Song Repository

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