The Friendship Gala was held at the Hawaii Convention Center on Saturday, March 12 and Sunday, March 13, 2016.
Its purpose is to promote friendship as well as international goodwill between people of Hawaii and people of the Asia-Pacific region. Also, March 11 of this year marked the 5th anniversary of the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. Therefore, the events of the 22nd Annual Honolulu Festival were conducted with a wish for Japan’s recovery.
The Chinese lion dance welcomed the guests, who were waiting for the opening of the festival.
When the doors were finally opened at 6:40p.m., the guests hurried into the venue with excitement.
The guests were greeted by a wide variety of dishes which were prepared by chefs from the popular restaurants in Hawaii.
This year, the chefs from 8 restaurants showed off their favorite dishes.
The participating restaurants were:
- Ruth’s Chris Steak House (Seared Tenderloin)
- Tommy Bahama Restaurant and Bar (Ahi Tacos)
- The Nook Neighborhood Bistro (Chicken Burger)
- Eat Honolulu (Chicken & Terrine)
- Noi Thai Cuisine (Seafood Wontons)
- Bread + Butter (Strawberry Caprese)
- Buho Cocina Y Cantina (Mexican Flan)
- Artizen (Portuguese Bean Soup)
The guests enjoyed tasting a variety of dishes in which there were lots of smiles. When they were asked about the food, a majority of the guests have answered “Delicious! We are so lucky to taste these food from the popular restaurants all at once!“ The people exchanged lively conversation with one another while enjoying the tasty gourmet. Most importantly, “building friendships” is the main purpose of the Friendship Gala.
The cheerleading team, TWISTER performed on stage while the guests were enjoying the meal. The loud shouts and their dynamic moves drew the attention. The members excited the audience with their acrobatic stunts.
Afterwards, Tsukasa Harufuku made an opening remarks followed by the Mayor of Nagaoka City, Niigata Prefecture who was invited as a special guest, and Roy Amemiya who is the Honolulu City Management Director.
The children from Ohana Arts performed the musical Peace on Your Wings for the 22nd Annual Honolulu Festival Special Event. They sang like angels to celebrate the opening. Those pure and beautiful voices captivated the audience.
These were just a beginning of the Friendship Gala.
Furthermore, various performances were held on stage.
A total of 260 sophomore students from Sonoda Gakuen High School came to participate in the Grand Parade on the final day of the festival. The selected members gave a preview performance on stage. They have been practicing their dance in class since last year. With jumps, leaps, and somersaults, the students’ youthful and agile movements instantly filled the hall with enthusiasm.
The other students joined around the stage which the performance became more vigorous.
The special unit, Un Bijou was composed by 3 choreographers from different genres. They had performed last year as well. Their exotic dancing performance captivated the audience.
The dance was followed by Hawaiian diva, Raiatea Helm.
Raiatea claims her role as a Hawaiian is to protect and pass on the Hawaiian culture.
She sang “Imagine”, a tribute song for the East Japan Great Earthquake recovery effort with her sincere heart for Tohoku.
Kupaoa also joined the support for Tohoku and sang a Hawaiian version of the support theme song “Hana wa Saku (Flowers will bloom)”, accompanied by a hula performance. The calm melody and gentle voice permeated the audience’s hearts which created a peaceful atmosphere.
The atmosphere had changed when the Ryukyu Daiko Team began performing their powerful taiko drumming on stage. The group performed a unique Okinawan-style rhythm with ever-changing formations with the loud “Bam, Bam” drumming. The energetic performance using their whole bodies rekindled excitement in the hall!
Ensuing was the climactic finale. The audience began climbing up on the stage, where everybody was welcomed to free-style dance.
The sound of a canon shook the exhibition hall with a “boom!” and numerous shining ribbons were released onto the stage. It was such a well-orchestrated finale.
This was the moment when everybody came together as one which the venue was in a peaceful atmosphere.
By sharing similar joy, feeling and excitement with one another, many fellowships were built in peace.
Foremost, the Friendship Gala is to promote friendship and international goodwill between people of Hawaii and the Asia-Pacific region.
If this cultural program becomes larger, perhaps people can sprout friendship with each other and the world will be filled with peace.