Thursday, May 12, 2011

Oahu, Hawaii: 41st Annual Ukulele Festival

Since 1971, Roy Sakuma and his sponsors have been keeping the ukulele alive and well by presenting the Annual Ukulele Festival every July at Kapiolani Park in the heart of Waikiki. The Ukulele Festival is a summer tradition attended and enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. By far the largest of its kind in the world, the Ukulele Festival showcases ukulele artists from Hawaii and around the world and an ukulele band of over 800, mostly children. Feel the irresistible magic of the ukulele. Food booths, ukulele displays, ukulele giveaways and more - July 17, 2011 from 9:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at Kapiolani Park Bandstand.

For more information, please visit the Ukulele Festival Hawaii website:

http://www.ukulelefestivalhawaii.org/

The ukulele originated in the 19th century as a Hawaiian interpretation of the cavaquinho or braguinha and the rajão, small guitar-like instruments brought to Hawaiʻi by Portuguese immigrants.

The name “ukulele” roughly translates as “jumping flea”, due to the action of one’s fingers playing the ukulele resembling a “jumping flea”. According to Queen Lili’uokalani, the last Hawaiian monarch, the name means “the gift that came here”, from the Hawaiian words uku (gift or reward) and lele (to come).

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Fukushima’s Hawaii girls go on tour

Hawaii in Japan? If you’ve seen the film Hula Girls then you already know why a remote mining town in Japan boasts a local troupe of hula dancers and a Hawaiian resort , but if you haven’t then you might find this article from the Telegraph interesting.

Spa Resort Hawaiians (スパリゾートハワイアンズ), located in the city of Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, opened on January 15, 1966 as the Joban Hawaiian Center, becoming the first theme park in the country.

The resort was a response to the decline of the mining industry in Japan and its impact on the small mining town of Iwaki. The Joban Mine had become the Japan’s largest mine in 1944, but as Japan’s economy shifted from being powered by coal to oil in the 1960s, the mining company president hit upon the idea of using the area’s hot springs to open a Hawaiian themed resort. Instead of hiring outside dancers, the company decided to create its own, and initially trained 18 daughters of the mining company employees. In the very close-knit mining community, entire families would work at the Resort.

The 2006 film Hula Girls was based on the story of the founding of the resort.

The resort has been closed since the Japan earthquake and tsunami of March 11th 2011, but the Hula Girls have gone on tour to campaign for the safety of the resort and attract tourist back to the Fukushima area.

Read the full text of the Telegraph article here.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cherry Blossoms - Not Only for Japan

cherry-blossom.jpg You may not know it, but Japan isn’t the only place to see cherry blossoms in the spring!

Each year, the National Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates spring in Washington, DC, the gift of the cherry blossom trees and the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan. This year’s Cherry Blossom Festival runs from March 26th through April 10th 2011.

The National Cherry Blossom Festival commemorates the March 27, 1912, gift of Japanese cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington. Mayor Ozaki donated the trees in an effort to enhance the growing friendship between the United States and Japan. 12 varieties of cherry blossom trees - 3,020 trees total were donated to the people of Washington D.C.

Take a look at what Washington D.C. looks like in cherry blossom season:

http://havecamerawil … erry-blossoms-photos

Interested in a trip to the East Coast? Check out Naka’s Travel’s tours to the mainland:

http://www.nakastrav … m/tours-america.html

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

5th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival Logo Unveiled

uchinanchu-taikai.jpg On March 11th Nakaima Hirokazu, the Governor of Okinawa, unveiled the logo symbol for this year’s 5th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival.

The logo was selected from over 200 submissions and features a combination of Okinawan “Kachashi” dancing and the character “kokoro” (”heart”). The colors represent each of the five continents.

The Uchinanchu Taikai is a rare opportunity developed to allow Uchinanchu from all over the world to return to the islands and reconnect with their heritage and culture. The First Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival was held in 1990, and the Fifth Uchinanchu Taikai will be held from October 13-16, 2011 in Okinawa, Japan.

Naka’s Travel Service will be escorting a special tour to the 5th Worldwide Uchinanchu festival from Honolulu.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Vending Machines in Japan

japan-vending-machines.jpg

If there’s one thing that you can see everywhere in Japan, it’s the Japanese vending machine. According to the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association there is one vending machine per an estimated 23 people in Japan - one of the world’s highest vending machine densities. Machines can be found all over cities, towns and even in the countryside. Almost none of them are vandalized or broken.

A majority of machines sell non-alcoholic beverages such as soft drinks, juice, vitamin or energy drinks, tea and coffee for a reasonable - and they usually offer choices of both hot and cold beverages and canned soups.

Vending machines that sell alcoholic beverages and cigarettes are also common. Many more varieties of vending machines sell goods such as ice cream, rice, disposable cameras, instant noodles and even omikuji, the small fortune telling slips of paper sold at shrines and temples.

Check out some of these vending machines around Japan:

Tokyo’s strangest vending machines

14 Cool Vending Machines from Japan

10 Most Bizarre Vending Machines in Japan

Japanese Vending Machines Connect With Electric Car Chargers