More than 140 guests attended the Pūpūkahi I Ke Alo O Nā Pua performance at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan
Posted on January 17, 2017 by Scot Allen
More than 140 guests attended the Pūpūkahi I Ke Alo O Nā Pua performance at the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, Japan, over holiday break, celebrating more than 100 years of cultural exchange between Mid-Pacific Institute and Japan. Pūpūkahi also performed at Waseda Jitsugyo School, Mid-Pacific's partner school.
Pūpūkahi I Ke Alo O Nā Pua performs for the US Embassy in Tokyo, Japan.
"Japan was an amazing experience where we were able to share our culture with others who love hula just as much as we do," said student Kara Suemori. "It brought our class closer and united us which resulted in better dancing and fun times. Dancing hula in Japan for most people is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and we were able to experience it with our friends and family as well as visit places that are very powerful and meaningful."
A natural bond was formed when Pupukahi alumni members from Japan took the stage alongside students and alumni from Hawaii, emphasizing the close-knit international community at Mid-Pacific Institute. As the evening culminated with a fusion of the Okinawan song "Nadasoso" and Kealiʻi Reichel's "Ka Nohona Pili Kai," the beautiful sway of the dancers brought tears of nostalgia to Japanese families and friends.
"Iʻll never forget the last show," said student Ryan Johnson. "The crowd was in tears and the applause we received afterwards and the pure happiness we had on stage was incredible."
Tears were also seen among the students as they said goodbyes to their new friends in Japan and returned to Hawaii. For many, this trip was their first to Japan but the kindness and openness of the Japanese that they met has fostered their curiosity and interest in Japan. At Mid-Pacific Institute, we nurture and challenge our students to become lifelong learners and global citizens that make a positive difference in the world.
"This was an incredible trip, if not one of the best trips that Pūpūkahi has ever taken in past twenty years because the students were invested in making it a memorable and meaningful trip for each other," said Kumu Hula Michael Lanakila Casupang. "Their behavior, their positive outlook on all new experiences they encountered, for not complaining for long days and short sleep times, and being grateful for everyone and everything that they were blessed to have gone through together. Pūpūkahi means "United As One" and this group of 26 students achieved this through their selflessness and dedication to each other. We used the word "KIZUNA," which literally means "strung together," but parallels the thoughts and aspirations of what Pūpūkahi means and what we stand for... unity and harmony as a group. The comments and compliments from all of the adult chaperones who I have known for the past 20 years, mirrored my feelings of how special this group of students was and how promising their future lives and interactions will be having gone through this together."