Waikiki Hula on the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound

Watching graceful hula dancers is one of my favorite activities during visits to Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Many nights during the week you can watch a hula show for free at Kuhio Beach Hula Mound on Waikiki Beach. Located just east of the famous Duke Kahanamoku statue, you won’t miss the crowds filling in just before show time. The Hawaiian hula is a living record of the island’s history and legends of the Hawaiian people. The dancers’ movements, music and chanting combine to tell the stories of their forefathers.

The show starts after the tiki torch lighting which adds to the festive atmosphere. The outdoor shows feature local hula dancers ranging from novice keiki (children) to aunties (adults). I like to go to the show multiple nights to watch different halau (dance groups) perform. Each group has its own repertoire of songs, costumes and instruments.

Hula Kuhio Mound Waikiki

If you are anywhere along the beach, you will know the show is about to begin when you hear the traditional blowing of the conch shell. Sometimes a torch lighter joins them as they make their way along the beach. This alerts vacationers to get their spot so as not to miss the start of the show. Bring a beach chair or pick up an inexpensive beach mat from any of the local quick marts and grab a spot near the mound.

Usually a narrator will introduce the history of Hawaiian culture and language to the group. Before the dancers begin, you will learn about each song’s message and the story it tells.

These dancers may wear traditional hula attire or more modern dress. To make the time-honored hula skirts, the dancers harvest and treat the long flat leaves of the green ti plant. Colorful tropical flowers are fashioned into beautiful, fragrant leis. A variety of nuts grown in the islands are strung together as necklaces.

Dancers share the mound with vocalists who chant and sing the traditional stories. Musicians join in with their mix of modern and traditional instruments to make each tale come alive. The large drums made of gourds or tree trunks have a full sound which carries along the beach.

Weather-permitting, you can catch these hula shows Tues., Thurs. and Sat. at 6:30-7:30 p.m. (6:00-7:00 Nov.-Jan). These hula shows are one of my favorite stops on trips to Waikiki. Check out these shows often to learn more about the people and culture of the Hawaiian island. Aloha…

United States Postal Service unveiled new 32 cent Aloha stamps

The United States Postal Service unveiled new 32 cent Aloha stamps this week in Honolulu, Hawaii. Governor Neil Abercrombie participated in the ceremony wearing, of course, an Aloha shirt. See the series of event photos on Facebook shot by Rick Li.

New "Aloha Shirt" USPS stamps

According to the Post Office, Carl Herrman created these stamps using photos by Ric Noyle. The five colorful Hawaiian shirts on the page range in hue and bold designs. The red shirt depicts Kilauea, an active volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. The blue and orange shirt shows off exotic Bird of Paradise flowers. Two other shirts feature surf boards and surfers. The last shirt sports sea creatures.

Governor Abercrombie at the unveling of the new "Aloha Shirt" USPS stamps

Governor Abercrombie at the unveiling of the new "Aloha Shirt" USPS stamps. Photo credit Ricki Li @hiishootstuff

This is not the first stamp to feature Hawaii people or places. The 41 cent stamp pictures Diamond Head Lighthouse on Diamond Head Road just east of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu.

Diamond Head Lighthouse

Diamond Head Lighthouse across from Diamond Head volcano on a steep Pacific Ocean cliff in Honolul, Hawaii

These are just a few of the stamps featuring Hawaii people, places or lifestyle.

 

POW/MIA Tragic Realities and a Love Story

On a warm December morning, we met Carole and Jim Hickerson at Hickam Air Force Base in Honolulu, Hawaii. We were invited to attend an Arrival Ceremony for the recovered remains of six World War II and Vietnam War military personnel. Their transfer cases would then delivered to the forensics lab for identification, family notification and burial. Carole and Jim retired to the island of Oahu and attend a half dozen of these solemn ceremonies each year.

Carole and Jim Hickerson at arrival ceremony Hickam AFB

Carole and Jim Hickerson at arrival ceremony for U.S. military personnel at Hickam AFB December 9, 2011

It is important to this pair to pay their respects to those who gave all for their country and they attend as many Arrival Ceremonies as their schedule permits. The remains of Carole Hickerson’s husband, a Marine pilot, came through Hickam in this manner in 2002. His body was escorted home, in full dress uniform and buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

During the years her husband was missing in action, Carole was frustrated by the lack of transparency from the U.S. government. There was no communication on the progress in finding and returning those service personnel who were unaccounted for during the war. While her husband was missing, she designed the image which later became the well known graphic on the black POW/MIA flag. She is quick to note she is not responsible for creating the flag itself.

Around 1970, my Godmother, Joyce Mary Moses, gave me a silver POW/MIA bracket inscribed with a soldier’s name and the date he went missing in action.

“Lt. Roger B. Innes, MIA 12-27-67″

Carole Hickerson was instrumental in developing the POW/MIA bracelet program to build awareness and public support for the return of our soldiers. I wore this bracelet for many years until the metal fatigued. In March of this year, I visited the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial Wall in Washington D.C and found the name Lt. Roger B. Innes etched on one of the panels.

Roger B. Innes , a solder killed in action, on Vietnam Memorial Wall Washington DC

The name, Roger B. Innes, a solder killed in action during the Vietnam War, on Vietnam Memorial Wall Washington DC

Carole and her current husband Jim met through National League of Families of America’s Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia.

Jim Hickerson, a U.S. Navy Captain, was a prisoner of war in Hanoi after his aircraft was shot down over Vietnam. He spent five years in the notorious Hanoi Hilton. Carole stated while Jim was a prisoner of war, his then wife “decided not to wait for him.”

Now retired from the Navy, Jim is active with the privately funded Pacific Aviation Museum on Pearl Harbor’s Ford Island. He enjoys military history and all the back stories that make the past come to life. Jim shared this story with us:

“A girl was buried on the U.S.S. Utah which sank on December 7, 1941 during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. One of the twin daughters of the ship’s captain had died and the captain brought her remains aboard prior to the attack. The ship was prepared to sail the next day and the grieving father planned to bury his daughter at sea. The ship never sailed out of port. It was one of the many ships bombed and sunk just after dawn that day. The captain and his daughter’s body were forever entombed in the wreckage. Jim says this back story came out when the surviving twin visited Ford Island later in her life.”

Carole and Jim are celebrating 37 years of marriage. Congratulations to you both!

Honolulu Marathon Vista Along Pacific Ocean in Hawaii Kai

The Honolulu Marathon offers 26.2 miles of beautiful scenery for participants. The event held annually in mid December attracted over 22,000 entrants this year, about half of which came from Japan.

The event begins at Magic Island where runners, walkers and wheelchair athletes gather at the starting line. At 5:00, fireworks burst through the dark sky as the marathon begins. The masses move as one for the first mile or so then begins to spread out.

Downtown, Honolulu City Lights festival is in full swing. Honolulu Hale is decked out with lawn displays, twinkling lights and towering Shaka Santa and Mrs. Claus wave as we go by. Iolani Palace is festive with red and green lanterns throughout the grounds.

As dawn breaks, we are on Kalakaua Street along the Pacific Ocean in Waikiki. We pass the statue of Duke Kahanamoku and the Healing Stones in front of the Waikiki Police Station. The first elevation begins along the side of Diamond Head volcano. Once at the top, we are on the way to a long loop through Hawaii Kai. The last leg takes participants back up a hill, through Diamond Head neighborhood ending at Kapiolani Park at the edge of Waikiki.

April M. Williams completes the 2011 Honolulu Marathon

April M. Williams completes the 2011 Honolulu Marathon

Six War Veterans’ Remains Arrive at Hickam AFB for Identification

The remains of six soldiers arrived at Hickam Air Force base in Honolulu, Hawaii today. We attended the ceremony hosted by the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command held in Hanger 35 on base. The transfer cases will move to the JPAC Central Identification Lab where forensic analysis will attempt to identify these individuals, then notify their next of kin.

The short program opened with a powerful voice singing our national anthem. A joint service honor guard and senior officers from each military branch were there this morning to pay their respects. Several hundred people gathered as the six flag draped, transfer cases surrounded by an honor guard were carried off the C-17 transport aircraft onto two awaiting buses.

The first five transfer cases carried World War II remains recovered from the United Kingdom, Canada, Vanuatu, Germany and Papua New Guinea. The sixth case was a Vietnam loss recovered in Laos.

Attending the service were veterans including a group of Purple Heart award recipients, active duty military personnel and media. The solemn service ended with a lone bugler playing taps.

Soldiers Remains return to Hickam AFB Honolulu

The remains of six soldiers return to Hickam AFB Honolulu for identification

Representatives from each service pay their respects as the remains of unknown soldiers are returned

Representatives from each service pay their respects as the remains of unknown soldiers are returned

We also spoke with a couple of Hawaii residents who attend as many of these events as possible. The remains of Carole Hickerson’s husband came through Hickam in this manner in 2002. His body was escorted home, in full dress uniform and buried at Arlington National Cemetery. She was visibly moved by the proceedings this morning.

She met her current husband, Jim Hickerson through National League of Families of America’s Prisoners of War and Missing in Action in Southeast Asia. Jim was a prisoner of war in Hanoi after his aircraft was shot down over Vietnam. He spent five years in the notorious Hanoi Hilton. He and Carole attend about six of these arrival ceremonies each year.

Since 1970, the U.S. government has identified remains of 1,770 American military personnel and reunited them with their families.

Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

The Honolulu Academy of Arts in Honolulu is a cultural smorgasbord. The museum is home to a permanent collection of art from around the world and much more. The Doris Duke Theater screens independent and international films. The open air Pavilion Cafe serves a fusion lunch menu featuring local ingredients amid a tranquil garden. Your tour of Shangra La, Doris Duke’s home with a collection of Islamic art, begins and ends at the museum.

One of my favorite areas is the peaceful Chinese Courtyard with the brilliant lotus blossoms poking out from the azure pond, guarded by stone dragons.

Lotus blossom in the Chinese Courtyard Honolulu Academy of Arts

Lotus blossom in the Chinese Courtyard Honolulu Academy of Arts

Ji Sun Chang suggested we visit the museum for a special exhibit. On display November 03, 2011 – January 08, 2012 are 56 paintings from the Palace Museum also known as the Forbidden City along with items from the Honolulu Academy of Arts collection. This is the first time these 13-14 century works of art have traveled outside China. Collections Registrar Pauline Sugino traveled to Beijing to bring this collection to Hawaii.

The exhibit titled “Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City” features works by influential artists of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) Huang Gongwang, Wu Zhen, Ni Zan, and Wang Meng.

These pieces feature several distinct styles of brush strokes and use of color. The works of these four masters influenced artists of the Yuan dynasty. I was amazed at how well these paintings have been maintained. Despite their age, they are in excellent condition.

April M. Williams and Ji Sun Chang entering Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

April M. Williams and Ji Sun Chang entering Honolulu Academy of Arts Masterpieces of Landscape Painting from the Forbidden City

Entrances to the exhibit and round doorways between rooms are designed to transform visitors to ancient China. Note the garden scene above as we enter and round doorways inside.

QR codes posted next to the landscapes link to podcasts with more information about specific works and artists. Click on the image below to see the introductory episode.

Honolulu Waikiki Toys for Tots motorcycle parade SBU 2011

Street Biker United Oahu hosted the 37th annual Toys for Tots motorcycle parade December 4, 2011. The ride starts in Honolulu at Magic Island continues through Waikiki ending at Kapiolani Community College. Marines collect the toys which are distributed to Hawaii girls and boys.

This event is organized by President Rick Davis and Public Relations Officer Ray Pagan of the Street Bikers United Oahu chapter. About 4,000 riders from all over Hawaii, mainland and Japan participate.

Tourist in Waikiki stop to watch the bikes as the roll by many with large toys on the front or back. Riders often dress in holiday garb.

Click on the image below to see video of the 2011 Toys for Tots ride in Honolulu.

70th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Attack

In the early morning hours of December 7, 1941, Japanese planes bombed Pearl Harbor Hawaii. Before the day was over, the Unites States lost airplanes, battleship and many lives in this surprise attack.

This week, we remember the 70th anniversary of this World War II milestone with events at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The brand new visitor center was opened on Pearl Harbor day of 2010 as part of the final reunion of the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association. Members of this group are in their 90’s and many find it hard to travel long distances to these gatherings.

We are fortunate to have met several of these heroes and are touched by  their stories.

A visit Ford Island and Pearl Harbor is moving. Sites include the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Oklahoma Memorial, USS Bowfin, USS Missouri and Pacific Aviation Museum. Nearby Punchbowl National Cemetery is nestled in a volcanic crater and narrates the war time timeline through mosaics.

In honor of Pearl Harbor Day, we share stories of service men who were at Pearl Harbor during the bombings and we were fortunate to meet these Pearl Harbor survivors. The personal stories they tell are much more powerful than reading history in books. These gentlemen in their 80s and 90s have plenty of spunk and courage. Read their stories, see picture and watch video of our heroes. Click on the links below to hear their testimonials.

Arizona Memorail in Pearl Harbor Honolulu Hawaii

Waikiki World War One Honor Roll Remembers Brave Soldiers

The World War One Honor Roll is across the street from the larger and more well known Waikiki Natatorium. The massive stone recognizes the 101 Hawaiian Territory soldiers who served in World War I. Each hero’s name is etched in one of three columns on the marble stone. This monument reminds us of the bravery of these people who served for United States or British forces during the war.

The Waikiki Natatorium and World War One Honor Roll are located at the east end of Waikiki Beach on Kalakaua Ave just east of Kapahulu Ave. When you visit, stop by the nearby Waikiki Aquarium and Honolulu Zoo.

World War 1 Honor Roll In Waikiki

World War 1 Honor Roll In Waikiki

 

Saturday Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market

Early Saturday mornings the crowds begin to gather at the Saturday Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market. Vendors set up early for shoppers who arrive as early at 7 AM to select their fresh produce. Purchases can not be collected until the air horn goes off at 7:30, announcing the official opening.

Local farmers bring fresh tomatoes, papayas, greens, apples, oranges, pineapple, onions, potatoes, sweet corn, mangoes. Treat yourself to exotic foods like Dragon fruit, ramubtan, dragons eyes, purple potatoes, cherimoya.

Tables are covered with colorful orchids, tropical flowers and we see customers leave with huge bouquets. Other delicacies include honey, salsa, kettle corn, pastries and breads.

When you finish shopping, treat yourself to breakfast from one of the many food vendors. Crowd favorites include Kona coffee, heirloom tomato pizza, Egyptian chicken, fried green tomatoes, Portuguese sausage and eggs. The Hawaiian staple, loco moco plates include a scoop of rice, scoop of macaroni salad, eggs all smothered in gravy topped with meat, often hamburger.

Da Spot one of the Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market vendors

Da Spot one of the many vendors at K

There is but one picnic table in the park to sit and eat your meal. Best bet is to find a curb or a spot on the retaining wall to eat. Bring a straw mat and enjoy a picnic on the grass.

By 9:00, the crowds are so thick is hard to navigate. The KCC farmers market is popular with Japanese tourists who arrive by the busload.

Crowds at Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market

Crowds gather early at Kapiolani Community College Farmers Market

Bring your own reusable shopping bags for comfort carrying your purchases through the market. The small parking lot fills up quickly. KCC is a short walk from the Diamond Head side of Waikiki. The college is located across from the entrance to Diamond Head state park.

Convenient Public transportation via The Bus drops passengers off and picks up in front of the farmers market. Ask for a transfer and your return trip is free.

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