All posts tagged: Japan

Architecture (Photo 101, Day 12)

For the past month, we’ve been practicing hula in a space with no mirrors and dance-unfriendly flooring, but tonight, we returned to dancing in Polihua a Mauliola, a quonset hut that was converted into a hālau dance space and where we’ve danced our entire training prior to ʻūniki. Stepping in to the space felt kind of like visiting your childhood home after just settling into your first apartment. Returning home, everything feels intimately familiar. You know where things are located and you can relax in the space, but the truth is, itʻs not really your home anymore. That’s how I felt tonight. I missed Polihua, but more so, I missed how my body responds in that space, and how I am able to dance beside people I’ve danced with for all these years. Here are some other photos I’ve taken on my travels that speak to the amazing architecture I’ve never really noticed before going abroad.  

Solitude (Photo 101, Day 5)

On a hike to Sanbutsu-ji Temple, the cliff temple, I took this picture of my hula brother at a rest stop. Our hula tradition is based upon the concept of environmental kinship, so as he looked out at the mountains and the trees in foreign Japan, I could tell that he wasnʻt just resting and admiring the beautiful view, but that he was syncing himself and connecting to the environment around him. His breathing steadied, his body relaxed, and he would occasionally close his eyes to feel the gentle breeze on his skin and once, he was in harmony with his surroundings, he inhaled deeply and turned to me and smiled.


  Yurihama is the sister city of Hilo and I was incredibly blessed to dance at the annual Hawaiian Festival one summer. On that trip, after meeting with government officials, we were whisked away to a beach and participated in an umibiraki ceremony. The ceremony was led by a Shinto priest tasked with declaring the sea “open and safe for swimming”. School children were then led by their teachers down to the ocean for a dip, officially kicking off the swimming season. Most Japanese adhere to the swimming season, so it was lovely to witness a formal ritual for something we take for granted in Hawaiʻi, where swimming season is year-round. Lately, I’ve been feeling like the world around me is so much more casual than I’m used to and it’s probably because there is not enough ritual in my life. For me, transitions marked by ritual, give me necessary pause. They allow for reflection on what has transpired and for visioning on how to progress into a next phase, so if I’m feeling like marked transitions are necessary for my own well-being, then perhaps incorporating ritual more intentionally in my life is a good …

Weekly Photo Challenge: Boundaries

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Boundaries.” I’ve always found torii fascinating, as they mark the transition between secular and profound, or profane and sacred, in Shinto religion. Although it’s human nature to gravitate toward and remain in what is more comfortable or worse, to neo-colonize those distinctly different realms to be the same, the process of going through a transition and stepping outside of ones comfort zone is always a good thing. It reminds us that being spiritual and being human are not mutually exclusive. 

Missing Japan

After spending a whirlwind week in Japan, I came home to Hilo and immediately began looking for flights to return. It seems, with every visit, I find myself being drawn in by its charm and beauty. I’m still processing the trip, so I’ll likely write about these experiences in future posts, but for now, here are some images of my time spent in Kamakura and Matsuzaki.  

Thursday’s Special: Trip to Japan

Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!  Here in the U.S., this holiday is an opportunity to reflect and give thanks for all the great things that we have been blessed with in our lives.  Thanksgiving also marks the start of holiday eating.  The main course in Thanksgiving is usually the turkey.  In my family, we celebrate with a medley of food, but not with the traditional turkey.  I never grew up eating turkey for Thanksgiving unless I was invited to someone’s home. I fondly remember on one occasion when one of the aunties mentioned she would be refraining from eating turkey as she didn’t want to be going on a trip to Japan.  I was so confused.  How could eating turkey prevent you from going to Japan?  I was puzzled, but as I was a guest, I didn’t want to seem out of sorts with not understanding what she meant.  It was not until I asked one of my friends what the aunty was referring to that I started to laugh. This aunty was not …

Invaluable Lessons (du jour)

I love forests. Whenever I’m in an old forest, I catch myself looking up, head back, mouth agape, in awe of the shards of light piercing through branches and pieces of the sky greeting me through the canopy. Standing alongside the ancients is a gentle, yet powerful reminder of exactly how young and irrelevant I am. The trees had been around for years before me and will likely continue to be there long after I’m gone. They are great teachers of resilience, patience, and humility. When notions of self-importance begin to creep up, I take to the forest. The frequency of me-centered pronouns and inflated feelings of complacency are soon snuffed out and I am reminded that I’m really not as knowledgeable or as good as I’ve led myself to believe. There is always more to learn. Daily Prompt: Childlike |

“Once a PY, Forever a PY!”

What’s a PY?  Ask anyone who has participated in the Ship for World Youth (SWY) Program, sponsored by the Government of Japan, and they will automatically respond, “participant youth”.  At this very moment, over 100 SWY alumni are gathered in Peru participating in the seventh annual global assembly.  Apart from official visits, they are also involved in a few humanitarian volunteer projects, and will wrap it up with an optional tour to Cusco & Machu Picchu. I had the great fortune of being selected way back in 2003 to be one of the 12 individuals to represent the United States.  During my SWY16 voyage, twelve countries were invited to participate by the Cabinet Office of Japan.  Throughout the forty-three day voyage, there were group discussions, presentations, sport activities, and cultural learning activities.  I belonged to “L” group, which had a mix of JPYs (Japanese PY) and one representative from each country, also known as OPYs (Other PY).  At our port of calls, we visited landmarks and did all the planned activities with our group.  As …

Dreaming of Adventure

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm and adventure. There is no end to the adventures that we can have if only we seek them with our eyes open.” -Jawaharlal Nehru As a young girl I often fantasised about becoming a world explorer. I spent many hours going through our home encyclopaedia collection from A to Z, picking out countries I wanted to visit and learning about exotic cultures. Daydreaming was my favourite pastime (still is). If I didn’t have my head buried in a book or at the neighbours playing tetherball, I was on the rooftop dreaming up exciting adventures in distant lands. I grew up in a middle-class household where both parents juggled two full-time jobs and worked tirelessly to support two daughters. It took 12 years of saving and careful planning before my parents could afford to take my sister and I on our very first (and sadly last) trip to the mainland USA as a family. Making the 15-hour, 10,634 mi. trans-Pacific trek from Guam via …

Transition to the Mundane

My first trip to Japan was so wonderful that I want to linger in the experience and not catalog it as a memory just yet. I’ve been home for 2 days now and am still transitioning back from idyllic Yurihama to my life in Hilo. I’m also struggling with articulating my thoughts, especially since I was in a kind of dream-state for the better part of the week, opting to empty my mind and allow new experiences to flow through, so I’ll share with all of you, my favorite images from this trip taken in Yurihama, Misasa, and Kurashiki. We all know all good things must come to an end, but I’d like to savor it for just a bit longer.