Nani Iapana

April 2010

Japan-touring hula community for whom money and students are the big attraction.  Although we aren't opposed to healthy paychecks and full-house workshops, our list of traveling priorities is topped by: 1- teach and learn, 2- increase our capacity as bearers of culture, and 3- have a great time.   


When we go to Tokyo for Mr. Ariga's annual U‘ilani Productions Hula Concert, we eschew the paycheck entirely. We take hula that we believe in -- foundation hula, not made-for-Japan hulahula -- and we ask, in return, for an expense-free opportunity to enjoy ourselves and experience the convergence of three often-disparate cultures: the Japanese, the Hawaiian, and the western. 


We find particularly instructive, on these visits, the similarities between old-school Japanese and Hawaiian values as evidenced, for example, in a pilgrim's reverence for water on stone at Kamakura temple, in Ariga-san's commitment to hospitable conduct, in an old man scrubbing his sidewalk across from the Shinagawa TGIF, and in the absolute hula-attentiveness required by a traditional Kabuki performance.


Our trip this April included a guided tour of Mt. Fuji, Hakone, Lake Ashi, and Owakudani Valley as well as a day at Tokyo Disney in the company of our Wa‘ahila hula sister Anela Akana. What we learn and practice at bus stop, subway station, dressing room, stage, shabu-shabu restaurant, and the Buzz Lightyear queue is the best kind of remuneration: how to bring honor to our kūpuna, how to bring dignity to Japan's image of po‘e hula on tour.

Our travel motivations are sometimes puzzling to the