Talk about a long-overdue post!
In mid-July we teamed up with Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science (HAAS) to host another study group from Japan. Their mission: to study Hawaiian language and culture. And what a treat this turned out to be!
The group was assembled by Okada sensei, a highly regarded ukulele teacher and performer in Japan. It was the second group he brought over this year. Seems the first group had such a wonderful experience that his other students wanted to come see for themselves what the fuss was all about. (See Uukulele Jammin’ in the Twilight Zone.)
Thanks to HAAS, we had the good fortune of finding the ultimate instructor on Hawaiian language and culture: none other than Kumu Hula Kauilani, a graduate of the highly respected Hälau O Kekuhi, a traditional formal hula school established by the legendary Edith Kanakaole, known for its ‘aiha‘a or “raw and bombastic style of dance characteristic of Hawai‘i island.”
It takes a very special person to graduate from Hälau O Kekuhi, and we were honored not only to make Kauilani’s acquaintance, but also have her part of the program. And she did not disappoint!
But it gets better. It’s worth mentioning that at the end of all our study programs, it’s our custom to hold a party at our home to celebrate the students’ hard work and dedication. So naturally we hired a live band featuring Chino, Kehele and Darren, none of whom have last names that I’m aware of (Okay, Darren’s last name is Schmidt…so guess which one of these three isn’t Hawaiian? ). We even hired Hilo’s premier dance crew Shell Shock to inject some youthful energy into the party. But what really made the party extra special was that our good friend Kumu Hula Kiwala’o and new friend Hokulani also graced us with their presence. It’s worth noting that both are also graduates of Hälau O Kekuhi. To quote Kehele (our 12-string guitarist extraordinaire), we had some serious “mana” going on at that party!
A big mahalo to everyone for making this party a special experience for our Japanese guests. We particularly want to thank Kauilani for her kindness and aloha: she stayed late after the party to give our visitors a free hula lesson! (See picture below.) Our visitors were so appreciative. In fact we’re still getting emails from Japan thanking us for the wonderful experience. Truth is we couldn’t have done it without Kauilani, Kiwala’o, Hokulani, Okada sensei, and all the folks in attendance. Plans are already in the works for another visit. It’ll be tough to top this, but we welcome the challenge. Can’t wait to do it again!
Without further ado, check out the pictures and video clips below:
Nakki-san entertained us with her lovely hula. And Okada sensei has such a beautiful voice!
Nakki-san and Emi-san dance at Mauna Loa beach in Hilo. Okada sensei provides the lovely music. It doesn’t get better than this, folks!
Bringing Cultures Together at Hawaii Academy of Arts & Sciences
Last but not least…Chilllin’ in Hilo
Copyright © Tim Sullivan 2010