The Power of Hula to Uplift Japan

It’s wonderful when I can find a way to tie together Hawaii and Japan in the same post, even better when I can work in a hula theme during this wonderful time of year in Hawaii that we call “Merrie Monarch week”.

For readers who aren’t aware, Hawaiian culture is booming in Japan, especially hula. According to Hawaii Tourism Japan, over 400,000 people in Japan are studying hula. That’s an incredible number, more than the total number of hula dancers in all of Hawaii they say.

But as you might imagine, in the last month not much hula dancing was happening in Eastern Japan, certainly not Iwaki City.

And yet twenty nine very resilient Japanese ladies from Iwaki are already back practicing their passion. This is incredible in light of what they’ve gone through. I could try describing what happened to their city, but this clip says it better than I ever could:

For the geographically challenged, Iwaki is in the southern part of Fukushima.

To get a feel for the scale of the town, it’s the 10th largest city in Japan with a population just shy of 350,000 people. And as you saw in the video above, it took some serious hits from the disaster.

But these hula dancers–many who lost their homes in the tsunami–refuse to let a disaster stop them from dancing. They already have plans to re-start hula lessons in a facility on the premise of a local hot-springs resort called, appropriately, “Spa Resort Hawaiians”.

But before doing so, they are going to take their hula show on the road. Their objective: inspire the rest of Japan with the power of hula!

As you might expect from the Japanese work ethic and attention to detail, the ladies are working hard to do the hula tradition proud. The leader of the hula group, Yukari Kato, summed up the goal of the tour: “we want to tap into the power of dance and inspire the rest of Japan by showing that Iwaki City is working hard, in high spirits and smiling.”

The power of hula–and the power of Japanese women–never cease to amaze and inspire me. These ladies have some serious “mana” happening!

Hawaii can take pride in the fact that its ancient tradition is helping uplift our Japanese friends during very tough times.

(Source: NHK News. Unfortunately the original link to the source article no longer provides access.)

Copyright © Tim Sullivan 2011

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