The 18th Annual Honolulu Festival hosted the Friendship Gala at the Hawaii Convention Center on Saturday, March 3, 2012.

The event began with the performance of Hirai Dai. Guests were welcomed into the Friendship Gala by Hirai's music and song.

The Friendship Gala began with the opening performance by Dai Hirai, which the guests were welcomed by his song.

This is a place where the popular local restaurants of Hawaii gather and offer various gourmets, which the guests can enjoy and interact with the participating groups of our Honolulu Festival.






The following were the 10 participating restaurants:

  • 3660 on the Rise
  • Nobu Waikiki
  • Chef Mavro
  • Nanzan Giro Giro
  • Mariposa
  • Ruth’s Chris Steak House
  • Wolfgang’s Steakhouse
  • Le Bistro
  • Prince Court Restaurant
  • Honolulu Coffee Company

There were many dishes that incorporated local foods of Hawaii including salad, meat, fish and dessert, which the guests were enjoying the dishes as if it is a full course meal. They tasted delicious which satisfied everybody.

Hibachi (teppanyaki) Steak from Prince Court Restaurant. Molokai coconuts used in this dish.

The Hibachi Steak offered by the Prince Court Restaurant is marinated with coconut from Molokai.

Honolulu Coffee Company's Berry Shortcake. Coffee jelly and macaroons too.

The picture above is a strawberry sponge cake by the Honolulu Coffee Company. They also offered coffee jelly and macaroon.

Always bubbly and spectacular, the members of NHK Mito Komaki Kei Hula Halau.

NHK Mito Komaki Kei Hula Halau was enjoying their dishes, which they always look lively and gorgeous.

Guests in the front row enjoy the delicious dishes.

The guests claimed “delicious” as they enjoyed their dishes in the front row.

Staff from 3660 on the Rise, one of Honolulu's top restaurants that receive awards for their excellent cuisine and service each year.

3660 On the Rise is one of the popular restaurants that won various awards.

Honolulu's newest Japanese restaurant, Nanzan Giro Giro, participating for the first time, of course.

Not to mention, Nanzan Giro Giro participated for the first time.

The Chinese lion dance was performed to celebrate the year of the Dragon. It is one of the Chinese traditions to bring a good fortune. Their vigorous energy was spread throughout the venue as the dragon danced on stage.

Speaking of the celebrations, the city of Honolulu and Nagaoka City has officially signed a sister-city agreement this year. Also, the Nagaoka Fireworks will be held once again. The big barrels of sake from Nagaoka City were brought to celebrate “Kagami Biraki” which is a Japanese traditional opening ceremony. They were broken up by a wooden mallet, which the guests from all around the world were able to witness such a traditional practice of Japan.

The dragon moved gracefully, as if it were alive.

The dragon performed lively as if it is really alive.

The powerful dragon flowed across the stage.

The dragon moved swiftly on the stage.

Kagami biraki ceremony celebrating the success of the Honolulu Festival and commemoration of the Honolulu and Nagoka sister city pact.

“Kagami Biraki” was held to celebrate the successful opening of the Honolulu Festival and the harmonious relation between the city of Honolulu and Nagaoka City.

The celebratory sake from the barrel was then sprinkled.

After the ceremony, the sake was offered.

Furthermore, Kumiko Yamada who is a Japanese entertainer performed her song on stage which was followed by the dancing performance of Sonoda Gakuen High School. In addition, Manoa DNA played Hawaiian music and also Sugaizanairen performed the yosakoi dance.

Kuniko Yamada is also a member of the “Star Mixed Chorus” which is a chorus group that supports cancer patients and their families. She shared her own experience and tribulation with breast cancer. Also, she sang A Joyful Blue Bird which is a song that she has written. Her kind words created a family-like atmosphere which some of the guests were in tears.

Sonoda Gakuen High School couldn’t attend last year due to the Great East Japan Earthquake yet, the students performed lively this year. Most of the audience commented “their dance gives me energy”.

Moana DNA played their Hawaiian music with a beautiful sound of guitar, accompanied by a hula dance by Sarah Kamalei, who was invited as a special guest. They performed a song called Aloha You ~Kizuna~ which goes “everybody is bonded, everybody is a family”. After the show, a big round of applause was given which filled the venue with a warm atmosphere.

Yamada Kuniko shakes hands with a member of the audience as she sings her song.

One of the audience offered a hand shake while Kuniko Yamada was performing her song.

Sonoda Gakuen High School's girls dance with all their might.

The vibrant stage performance was brought by the students of Sonoda Gakuen High School.

Listening to the perfect blend of Manoa DNA's sound, the beautiful sceneries of Hawaii come to mind.

Hawaiian music performed by Manoa DNA was harmonious, which reminded of the scenery of Hawaii.

Members of the 47th Honolulu Sister City Goodwill Delegation from Hiroshima enjoy the stage performances. Look at their beautiful smiles.

The Goodwill Delegation group from Hiroshima City also enjoyed watching various stage performances. We were able to see their wonderful smiles!

The last performance was given by Sugaizanairen. The founder Suga Kunitomo had passed away on June of 2011. She was the one who always shouted “ARIGATO GOZAIMASU! (THANK YOU!)” in a bold, cheerful voice on stage. Unfortunately, her presence was absent this year. In addition, Sugaizanairen is a group that has been participating in the Honolulu Festival from the first to the present. It was their will to join every year which Suga Kunitomo participated during her short remaining life.

They performed the powerful yosakoi dance with a message of “making a better world”. The adults and the children were enjoying  with a chant of “yosakoi! yosakoi!”. We hope that the people of the world will be united as one for world peace.

Kunitomo Suga (right) performing at the 17th Annual Honolulu Festival for her last time.

On the right is Suga Kunitomo, who participated last year.

New leader of SUGAREN Kunitomo Yuichiro speaks fondly of their founder Kunitomo Suga.

Yuichiro Kunitomo who became the new leader of Sugaizanairen shared his story of Suga Kunitomo.

The traditional Yosakoi Dance of Tosa, Kochi Prefecture begins by the sounding of the naruko to the beat of Yosakoi Bushi.

The yosakoi dance from Tosa City, Kochi Prefecture was performed using the naruko clappers.

Then all at once, the dancers throw their hats up in the air and there is a quick costume change. The sound also changes to an upbeat Yosakoi resulting in a different and more powerful Yosakoi Dance.

The yosakoi dance became drastic with intense beats when all the performers simultaneously threw their bamboo hats in the air and changed their costumes.

The audience joins in to dance Yosakoi.

Everybody was united and enjoyed the yosakoi dance.

Another wonderful Honolulu Friendship Gala! The curtain closes with the crowd in an uproar.

This year’s Friendship Gala ended wonderfully and successfully.