15th Annual Honolulu Festival (2009)

The 15th Annual Honolulu Festival (2009)

Obama Girls & Obama Boys; “Obama for Obama” support group:

Interview with Yasunori Maeno

The members of Obama Girls & Obama Boys participated at the 15th Annual Honolulu Festival for the first time in 2009. Recently, “Obama for Obama” support group that promotes the city of Obama, Japan is gaining a lot of media attention even in the U.S., since its name is same as the President Obama. We interviewed Yasunori Maeno, who is the representative of Obama Girls & Obama Boys.

We choose to support Obama as we please. Yasunori Maeno (Obama Boys)

“Obama for Obama” support group, Yasunori Maeno

toba_qPlease tell us about your group Obama Girls & Obama Boys.
toba_aWe formed the support group called “Presidential candidate Obama for Obama at our discretion” during the election in 2008. When Barrack Obama was elected president, we changed our name to “Obama for Obama” support group. We also formed our hula group called “Obama Girls” and we are performing in various places.

However, we realized that the group with girls only is a bit boring so we formed Obama Boys as well. Currently, Obama Girls and Obama Boys are performing together. Also, Obama Girls have been practicing for a little over a year since March of 2008. On the other hand, Obama Boys only been practicing for 5 months.

toba_qI heard you’ve received a courtesy visit from the Mayor of Honolulu right after your arrival. Please tell us more about that.
toba_aOur flight was delayed about 20 minutes which we barely arrived at the state capitol on time. The ceremony was already started when we entered the building. As soon as we sat down, we were led to the stage. Then, we received a letter of gratitude which thanked our contribution to the President Obama. Afterwards, we’ve attended the welcoming luncheon as well as the welcoming reception which were hosted by the Mayor of Honolulu. Also, we handed our souvenirs that we brought from the city of Obama. In addition, there was an awarding ceremony, where we received participation award which I accepted it on behalf of our group.

toba_qWe’ve heard that your group was interviewed by the local media later on. How was the TV station in Hawaii?
toba_aYes, we went to the KITV station and performed hula. We got surprised because we were suddenly called to appear on their show. We’ve been to the TV station and appeared on the show in Japan but this was our first time to enter the TV station in Hawaii. Also, we introduced our original merchandise in the show. We were very pleased to be invited on the show. It does contribute to our future and also we were able to build friendship with others.

An "I love Obama" T-shirt from Obama City  was given to the city of Honolulu.

The city of Obama handed their original T-shirt “I love Obama” to Honolulu.

The group received an award in appreciation of participating in the Honolulu Festival from Mayor Mufi Hannemann. The two are very proud and happy.

Participation award was given by the Mayor of Honolulu, Mufi Hanneman. Two of them looked very pleased.

toba_qHow much did your group practiced for this year’s Honolulu Festival?
toba_aWe did it once a week. Every member has their job so we gathered around 6:00 p.m. and practiced until 9:30 p.m. for 2 hours. It is also good for losing weight and staying healthy.

toba_qIs your group performing hula in various places of Japan as well?
toba_aObama Boys is performing less since the group is still new. On the other hand, Obama Girls is dancing the hula dance in various places. Both of them are scheduled to perform on May and June in Osaka. Also, the Honolulu Festival is the first major event for Obama Boys.

toba_qYou are also dancing as one of the members of Obama Boys. How is hula?
toba_aI started dancing since November of last year. It is difficult but fun and it gives me a good feeling. I always liked playing sports such as golfing but now, I’m all about hula (laughs).

[ The scenes at the stage in Ala Moana ]

Members wait to perform at Ala Moana Center Stage. Not nervous at all, they were all having fun.

The members wait their turn in the backstage of the Ala Moana Center. They weren’t nervous rather they looked enjoying themselves.

The Obama Girls danced with ease. The sun shined on stage and the ladies had big smiles on their faces.

The member of Obama Girls kept their smiles and danced hula in a relaxed manner on stage, where the sunlight was shining.

Spectators from the first floor to the third floor watched. They enjoyed the performance of Obama Girls and Obama Boys.

There were a lot of audiences from the 1st floor to the 3rd floor of the Ala Moana Center. They were fascinated by hula of Obama Girls & Obama Boys.

The media interviewed Mr. Maeno and Ms. Shimizu. They were quite busy.

Maeno from Obama Boys and Shimizu from Obama Girls were been interviewed by the media. They looked very busy even in Honolulu.

toba_qWhat are the plans for “Obama for Obama” support group in the future?
toba_aWe would like to focus on hula. Our purpose is to support the President Obama but also, we would like to lead this to the community building of Obama City. Our first goal is for the President Obama to come and visit our city.

toba_qWhat kind of activities are you planning for the community building?
toba_aOur group is private which is run by civilians such as house wives and office workers so we are not forcing any activities but rather we are performing independently. We would like to keep expanding our groups in our ways. For instance, we held one event last year, where various private groups performed their hula. We are providing a place where everyone can join without constraint. We would like to gather many people with volunteer spirits. Also, it is our goal to encourage those from outside of Fukui Prefecture to come and enjoy the city of Obama.

In addition, we partnered with Hawaii Tourism Japan last year. Ashley Layfield, who won the Miss Hawaii 2007 came to our city and danced for us.

toba_qWhat do you think of the Honolulu Festival as a place for promoting your city?
toba_aWe are related to the Hawaiian event so it is easy for us. If you learn hula, you will be motivated to dance in Hawaii. Originally, we appeared in the Pan-Pacific Festival as well. This year, we were pleased to be invited from the Honolulu Festival Foundation to the Honolulu Festival.

toba_qWould you like to meet with the President Obama? If so, what would you like to do with him?
toba_aOf course we want to meet with him as soon as possible. If we did, we will be hula dancing (laughs). We just want to meet with him more than anything else rather than doing something with him.

toba_qDo you have any message for the audience of Hawaii, Hawaii legislators and Mayor of Honolulu?
toba_aAlthough we are still inexperienced group, please continue to support us. We would like to have an opportunity to perform hula in front of the President Obama someday in Honolulu. It might be a great idea for him to come and visit Japan afterwards. We appreciate for all your support.

[ The scenes of the Grand Parade ]

Obama Girls and Obama Boys in the Grand  Parade in Waikiki.

The Grand Parade was held on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki.

The ladies promote the city of Obama to the people of Hawaii with their smiles and hula.

The dancers promote the city of Obama to the crowd through their smiles and hula.

The Obama Girls wave to the crowd carrying  a sticker of Obama.

The performing members of Obama Girls are waving their hands to the crowd and holding their original Obama sticker.

They danced the hula in unison. Hard to believe that they've been dancing for only one year.

Obama Girls danced beautifully in unison. One cannot imagine that the group was formed a year ago.

We were practicing for the Honolulu Festival every day.
obama01Kiyomi Takahashi- dancer of Obama Girls
We officially started practicing for the Honolulu Festival this year which we practiced every day. Also, I was worried because it was raining during the parade but I was relieved since it became sunny by the time we appeared. I was able to enjoy dancing without a sense of nervousness. Thank you very much!

I performed my best to promote the city of Obama to people around the world.
obama03Tatsuya Sano- dancer of Obama Boys
I’m a beginner that started learning hula half a year ago. I was a bit nervous during the performance but I performed my best to promote the city of Obama to people around the world.

We were able to enjoy watching hula. 
obama02Frank and Jody- audience 
We’ve heard about the city of Obama on TV and internet but we never knew that there was a wonderful hula group which promotes their city. They showed such an amazing performance where we were able to enjoy watching such a beautiful hula.

Obama Girls & Obama Boys
【 “Obama for Obama” support group 】

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