June Begins the Bon Dance Season on the Big Island

June has arrived and with it the Bon Dance season on the Big Island. If you are visiting the island and have an opportunity to attend you should. Bon dance in Hawaii is a very social time. There will be local food for sale, Taiko drummers, men and women in Yukata (not required) and lots of dancing and music.

What is Bon dance? A celebration honoring  and remembering your ancestors. Spending an evening thinking about loved ones who have passed does not have to be depressing. Bon dance is one way to celebrate their memories while showing them that your life is moving foreword without them, and that your life is full of joy. What could be better than that?

Below is an online article published in Hawaii Magazine about Bon Dance as well as the 2016 schedule for Bon Dance, and a practice schedule if you would like to learn a dance or two. Lots of people just follow along at a Bon dance, so don't feel as if you have to know the dance steps. It's really all about having fun.

Ma‘i Ho‘oka‘awale ‘Ohana & The Journey Into Exile

by vrecinto on April 23rd, 2014

Ma‘i Ho‘oka‘awale ‘Ohana & The Journey Into Exile: Hansen’s Disease in Hawai‘i  “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story” ‘Imiloa Lecture Series

The seldom told stories of Hawai‘i’s Hansen’s Disease sufferers who werenupepa clipping exiled to Molokai will come alive in their own words when ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center hosts Dr. Kerri Inglis, Chair, Department of History at UH Hilo, for her talk “Ma‘i Ho‘oka‘awale ‘Ohana & the Journey into Exile: Hansen’s Disease in Hawai‘i, 1866-1969” on Thursday, May 1, at 4:00 p.m. The talk is presented as part of a continuing series being offered in conjunction with the Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story.” Attendees may also tour the exhibit, which is on display until June 1, 2014 as part of a 13-city national tour.

From 1866 to 1969, approximately 8,000 persons were quarantined or exiled to the leprosy settlement at Kalaupapa.  Endeavoring to recover the voices of the patients who lived through this significant moment in Hawaiian history, Inglis will present her research on the letters and articles that patients and their loved ones wrote to the Board of Health and Hawaiian language newspapers in the 19th century, and share oral histories that were collected in the 20th century.  Together these records tell the story of a disease, a changing society’s reaction to that disease, and the long lasting consequences of that experience for Hawai‘i and its people.

Kerri A. Inglis serves as Chair of the Department of History and Associate Professor of Hawaiian & Pacific Islands History at UH-Hilo and is the author of Ma‘i Lepera: Disease and Displacement in Nineteenth-Century Hawai‘i (Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2013).  Her professional interests include research and teaching on the history of disease and medicine, especially as they pertain to Hawai‘i and the Pacific, within a global context.

Kalaupapa peninsulaInglis visits Kalaupapa regularly, and takes a group of UH Hilo students to the peninsula for a service-learning opportunity (for one week) every fall semester. The Smithsonian traveling exhibition, “I Want the Wide American Earth: An Asian Pacific American Story,” celebrates Asian Pacific American history across a multitude of diverse cultures and explores how Asian Pacific Americans have shaped–and been shaped by–the course of the nation’s history.

Cost is $8 for members, $10 for general admission. Pre-purchase tickets at the ‘Imiloa front desk or by phone at 969-9703.

‘Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai‘i is a world-class informal science education center located on the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo campus. ‘Imiloa is a place of life-long learning where the power of Hawai‘i’s cultural traditions, its legacy of exploration and the wonders of astronomy come together to provide inspiration and hope for generations. The Center’s interactive exhibits, 3D full dome planetarium, native landscape, and programs and events engage children, families, visitors and the local community in the wonders of science and technology found in Hawai‘i. It is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday (closed Mondays).  For more information, visit the website at www.imiloahawaii.org.

Celebrating Girl's Day At The Palms Cliff House Inn

Girl’s Day is Saturday, March 3, 2012.

On Display Will Be A Collection Of Japanese Kokeshi Dolls & Antique Traditional Girl's Day Hina Matsuri Display, With Accompanying Accessories, Dougu,  Consisting Of More Than 100 Pieces.

Girl’s Day, which takes place on the 3rd of March each year, is celebrated with special food and with elaborate displays of dolls representing the Emperor and Empress and in the most elaborate displays, their full court of attendants and household goods on a graduated dais covered in red.

This event originally began in the Edo era; traditionally, this event was only celebrated by the young daughters of the Imperial Family and the Japanese upper class, but gradually this festival became integrated into the celebrations of the common people.

In a time when marriage was a woman’s only option, such displays were thought to encourage the daughter to aspire to a prosperous match and to ward off evil and promote the health of the young girl. On Boys’ Day, celebrated in early May, helmets, armor and warrior dolls were displayed to encourage young boys to see the glories of military service as a man’s duty.

In carrying on with the tradition, Hina dolls are lovingly viewed and special sweets that can only be eaten on this day are consumed. This is the day families still pray for the happiness and prosperity of their girls and to help ensure that they grow up healthy and beautiful. The celebration takes place both inside the home and at the seashore. Both parts are meant to ward off evil spirits from girls.

A girl's first "Girls' Day" is called her hatzu-zekku. On a girl's hatzu-zekku it is very popular for the girl's grandparents to buy her a display. This display can have up to seven tiers with dolls, A Palace, and small furniture. At the top is always the dolls of the emperor and empress with a miniature gilded screen placed behind them, very much like how it is in the imperial court. Most families take out this display of dolls around mid-February and put it away immediately after Hina Matsuri is over. There is a superstition that says that families slow to put away the dolls will have trouble marrying off their daughters!

This is one of the best Meiji-era images of the Japanese Doll Festival decorations I have seen during.  I love the detail of the display as photographed by Meiji-era photographer T. ENAMI.

I have been collecting my Hina Dolls for 15 years. Gathering a piece here and a piece there. Discovering treasures both here in Hawaii as well as purchasing items in Japan. The most fun for me at the household items. The attention to detail is incredible.

As my display grows, so does the space required to house it when not on display.  Three shelves in my office as well as a full closet are devoted to my ever growing collection. I hope you have enjoyed looking at my collection of Hina dolls, if you are in the area on Girl’s Day, please stop by to see it in person. I’d be more than happy to show and share it to you!

Lake Wai'au

Lake Waiau is a high-elevation lake located at 13,020 feet (3970 m) above sea level on Mauna Kea, on the island of Hawai'i. It is the seventh highest lake in the USA, and one of very few lakes at all in the state of Hawai'i. It is relatively small, only about 100 m across, and varies in size as the water level rises and falls. This photo was taken when the water was very low, you can nee the water line on the opposite shore.  The name means "swirling water" in Hawaiian, though it is usually rather placid. Legend has it that a mo'o lives in the lake and occasionally you can see it swim across the surface. I myself have seen something move across the lake, but as there are no fish in the lake, I guess it was the mo'o.

According to Hawaiian mythology, Lake Wai'au is bottomless and is the portal for spirits to travel to and from the spirit world. In ancient time, a chief would throw the umbilical cord of their first son, as soon as it fell off the infant, into the lake. It was to reserve the place for the child's afterlife as a chief. Rituals are still performed occasionally in present days.

My elders have told me that when they were growing up their fathers would go up to lake Wai'au and fill a water gourd with water from the lake. When someone in the home became sick they would drink some of the water and get better. They also said the water was always very cold, even on the hottest days, if you drank from the gourd it was always cold.

Lake Waiau is a sacred site. Visitors should not disturb, enter or drink the water of the lake.

 

Getting Away From It All – Camping Near South Point

We just got back from a mini-vacation to our favorite camping spot near South Point. We love it because, as you can see, there is never anyone there! Just us and the ocean and the wild goats and pigs…and the fishing is fine!

It’s a combination of dusty two rut roads and treacherous tire eating lava fields that comprise most of the two plus hours of bumping, bouncing, terrain (but if you love 4-wheeling, this is it!) to get there, but boy is worth the effort.

This trip we saw two of the Big Island’s FAD’s pretty close to shore. We guess they came off their chains after the tsunami, but thus far these two are not listed as “missing” so someone in Honolulu must know they have come off their chains and where they are. We’ll keep an eye on that.

As you can see the coastline is simply sublime. It is a combination of sandy coves, rocky lava flows reaching in to the ocean and thick coastal vegetation. Of course we are undo no illusions that no one else goes here. Plenty do, the evidence of other fishermen are literally and unfortunately everywhere. We we leave we usually have one or two bags of trash we have picked up during our visit. But we have been lucky enough to usually see no one but each other when we go.

I love cooking over an open campfire. We actually fight over who gets to do it…I usually win, yea for me!

Meals this trip were courtesy of Halau O Na Pua Kukui. We dined on the left overs from their week long stay with us at the inn…Onolishous! Fried rice with ham and Shou Chicken.

Our camping area offers lots of diversions. There is great opportunity to find fishing floats. This one we found on this trip and was as large as John’s mid-section. We also scored with the ever elusive glass floats and found 2! One was a small green on and one was yellow! I have never seen a yellow one before this one. Fantastic hunting.

  

The hiking is terrific along the coast with plenty of blow holes to see and deep pukas like this one to scramble into during low tide. Of course you should never turn your back to the ocean, even for a picture…shame on us.  In the eleven years that we have been camping here the fishing has always been fantastic. The one shown here is a Noho, or false scorpion fish. Boy was it good eating too. All dense white meat and tasted like lobster. Love this fish!

The other thing I do when camping near south point is collect salt. It is where all our salt comes from and I ewven gift some of it away.

As I said the hiking is terrific. Nearby there are large petroglyph fields and really crazy lava flows like the one above, all drippy and you would swear that they were still dripping they look so alive. If you go, enjoy the beauty of this area and carry out some of the fishing trash left behind by others.  No, I’m not going to say exactly where it is. That’s our little secret!

Kipukapuaulu: The Bird kipuka

This one mike long looping trail through a hawaiian kipuka is rare in that it is filled with old-growth ‘Ohi’a and Koa trees and is home to three species of native birds. The forest itself is surrounded by recent lava flows from Mauna Loa.

This hike, while still within the Volcano’s National Park, is not inside the park gates. To get to the trail head you drive past the main entrance on Hwy 11 for 5 miles until you reach Mauna Loa Road. Take this to the trail head. There is ample parking and the trail is well marked and easy to hike.

On this trail you will find many signs identifying the native trees and plants as well as what they were/are used for. I find this kind of information really interesting and informative.

 

The park service does lead tours if you are interested, but I thought the trail information was easily presented and easily understandable. There is also a trail guide you can purchase at the park book store for $2.00.

 

Touching Heaven

Standing proudly at 13,796 ft (4,205 m) and ranked 15th in the world of prominent mountain peaks, Mauna Kea is the second highest peak in the United States (first being Mount McKinley or Denali in Alaska). Many here on the Big island, we included, call the slopes of Mauna Kea home. As a result we take our fair share of pride in quickly pointing out that while the elevation of Manua Kea is measured from sea level, the mountain actually begins far below the ocean making the true height of the mountain 32,808 feet (10,000 m) making it the tallest mountain in the world. So go ahead, visit the top of the world, you wont be sorry you made the trip.

Also known as Ka Mauna A Kea (Wakea’s mountain) and Mauna O Wakea (the mountain of the God Wakea) who is believed by Hawaiians to be the one whom all things in Hawaii are descended. There are nine Hawaiian Gods and Goddesses (that I am aware of, but I’m no expert) associated with this mountain, thus, it is a very sacred place for the people of Hawaii.

At the summit you will be moved by the expansive views, ok, my eyes got very damp it was so beautiful. The earth simply falls away beneath you no mater what direction you look.

Do not miss the elevation marker showing the 13,796 ft elevation. Take a photo with the marker, after all, you have really accomplished something if you make it this far.

Built originally in 1997 by the Royal Order of Kamehameha the lele at the summit of Mauna Kea is living proof of the people of Hawaii’s continued respect and devotion to the sacredness of Mauna Kea. Please respect the cultural and religious significance of the lele and do not disturb it’s contents. Offerings are made regularly by the people of Hawaii who go there for many reasons, but predominantly to experience the physical connection between heaven and earth, for this is where they meet, and connect with their ancient spiritual past, breathing life into their future. The original lele was vandalized in 2006 but rebuilt that same year.

A hike to the summit of this magnificent mountain is an experience not to be missed. But take the time to prepare before you begin your accent and you will have a much more enjoyable experience. As you will notice in our photos we are wearing hiking boots (not slippers or tennis shoes. While you can drive most of the way up the mountain, the summit can only be reached by hiking. The trail is well marked, but consist of loose rock and gravel and the incline is quite steep.

Because the elevation is so high you will have difficulty catching your breath as you make for the summit, take your time, rest and enjoy the view. Please also notice that we are wearing long pants, and wind-breakers. Though not a requirement and we certainly saw our fair share of shorts and t-shirts on the day we went, but the danger of hypothermia is quite real and should not be ignored. While it was sunny at the summit, the winds were recorded at 20 mph and the air temp was recorded at 7.2 degrees Celsius or 45 degrees Fahrenheit in the sun.

It can be interesting to check the weather periodically and you can do so by visiting the Mauna Kea weather center at: http://www.cfht.hawaii.edu/ObsInfo/Weather/ or http://mkwc.ifa.hawaii.edu/index.cgi

You should also have a hat, sunglasses; I wish I would have had gloves, sunscreen and lots of water. The University of Hawaii, which manages the summit, offers this advice as well because of the low atmospheric pressure and it’s effects on your body: visitors should be over the age of 16, please no pregnant women, or people with high blood pressure, heart, or respiratory conditions, and if you have been scuba diving within the last 24hours of your anticipated visit to the maintain do not go, you will get the bends. Also plan on spending at least 30 minutes at the visitor center to let your body adjust so you do not get altitude sickness and need rescuing. While these warnings may seem silly and easy to disregard, remember, medical assistance is at least an hour away. You can reach the visitor’s center at the 9,200 foot level in a regular car with no trouble, but you should only plan on reaching the summit if you have a four wheel drive vehicle, and of course, obey road condition warnings. In the winter months, Mauna Kea has ground blizzards with flying snow and ice that can reach 70+mph. I danced hula at the summit once for winter solstice and the temp was below -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Brrr, it was darn cold. (But amazing to see stars below me as I danced and awaited the sun rise above the horizon).

On Saturday and Sunday there is a free 4-Wheel Drive tour of the summit that starts at the visitor’s center at 1:00. Participants must be 14 or older and you will need your own vehicle. The highlight is that you can get into Keck 1 observatory! A rare experience as all the observatories are privately owned.

The 4th Saturday of each month is also cultural night on the mountain at the visitor center. Programs start at twilight and are free. For more information about Mauna Kea you can call the visitor center at 808-961-2180 or visit the visitor website at: http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/

Enjoy you adventure to the summit!

Hiking Kilauea Iki Trail

Located in Volcano National Park, the Kilauea Iki Trail is both popular and worthwhile. John and I hiked this trail for the first time this past Tuesday and looking back I have to ask myself “What took me so long!”

I’d put this hike at the top of my list for Big Island Hikes. Why? Because you will not only hike along a crater rim, and gaze at spectacular vistas and descend onto the floor of the crater to see the scale of volcanic power up close and personal; but you will also be treated to wonderful walks through old growth ‘Ohi’a forests filled with native I’iwi and ‘Apapane birds that will serenade you with their lovely native songs.

   To begin the hike you will park at the Kilauea Iki Overlook. The Trail starts off to the right (you will be traveling counter clockwise). I recommend hiking the trail as suggested in the trail guide (available for purchase – $2.00 at the visitor’s center). While you are on this hike you will see many people headed toward you – they are folks who have started at Thurston’s lava tube and headed down for a quick jaunt to the crater floor. Few of them will actually do the entire hike. Also of note is that the climb out of the Kilauea Iki Crater is much easier if your hike the trail as the guide suggests.

I should take a moment here to advise that you wear hiking boots, not tennis shoes, crocks, or flip-flops (yes we saw all the above and it was obvious their owners were walking in pain) . Also, I drank 48 oz of water on this hike and was still really thirsty once we got back to the car. So wear a light pack and carry lots of water. We also ate our lunch on the trail – it was plenty cool enough and relaxing. The entire hike took us 2 hours and 50 minutes (including a good 20 min. lunch break). I would rate the trail as moderately difficult, only because walking on crumbly lava requires your attention and where there are steps on the trail down into the crater they are in poor condition, so again, you must pay attention to where you are stepping. Having said all that, as you can see I am not in the best physical condition and I completed the hike with energy to spare.

I recommend using the hiking guide, please purchase a guide at the visitor center as the $2.00 helps support the park and will provide you with information about the 15 points of interest along the trail. There are quite a few opportunities to catch a glimpse of the venting gasses over at Halema’uma’u crater. Amazingly the steam rising from the Kilauea Iki crater floor is steam caused by rainfall and not escaping poisonous gasses. You still need to use care when looking into the steam vents as the steam is very, very hot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The forest is so beautiful it is difficult not to stop every ten feet to take a photo! But it is a wonderful opportunity to see many of Hawaii’s native species in their native habitat. Don’t forget to look up ans see if you can see any of the native birds. You will hear them, they will sing to you for most of the hike.

Once down on the crater floor I was surprised at how cool it was. there was a strong breeze blowing through the crater so we never felt hot, except when visiting a steam vent of course. In the photo above, the tiny specks in the center of the photo are other hikers. Kind of gives you some perspective of just how big the crater is.

Once across, it is back up into the forest. The shade feels wonderful after the sun in the crater (oh yea, take a hat!) but it is slower climbing out. Take your time and and enjoy the forest again. This forest is a bit different from the first one you waled through. It is younger and thus has fewer native species (meaning more invasive non-native plants) It is still quite pretty though.

 

 

I hope we have inspired you to take this hike when you visit Volcano National Park. There are so many hikes in the park that are worthwhile, but this is a favorite of mine. I hope you will enjoy it as well. -InnGirl