11-day voyage brings Hokule'a to Okinawa
The milestone trip is the first to Japan for the Polynesian Voyaging Society
The double-hulled canoe Hokule'a arrived in Okinawa early this morning, its first stop on the Japanese leg of its trans-Pacific voyage.
Between 100 and 150 people greeted the crew of 11, despite the 1 a.m. arrival, said Hokule'a spokeswoman Kathryn Thompson.
FOLLOW ALONG» Follow the voyage of Hokule'a at the Polynesian Voyaging Society web site at: www.pvs.hawaii.org
The Hokule'a crew, who arrived in Itoman, was scheduled to be guests at a dinner organized by about 100 Hawaii residents living on Okinawa, officials said.
Thompson said that during the 11 days at sea since leaving Yap in Micronesia, the crew encountered all kinds of weather, including squalls and fog.
The crew on this leg includes Japanese nationals Kanako Uchino and Takuji Araki.
The voyage is the first to Japan for the Polynesian Voyaging Society and will commemorate ties to the island nation that began in 1881 when Hawaii's King David Kalakaua opened the way for Japanese immigration to Hawaii.
"The voyage honors that," Thompson said. "The Japanese came and contributed so much to Hawaii."
Thompson said the voyage also continues the idea of a cultural exchange among Pacific islanders. She said Japan also has a strong canoeing tradition, including on Okinawa, where canoes are called "sabani."
During its voyage through Japan, the Hokule'a is scheduled to visit Kumamoto, Nagasaki, Fukuoka, Oshima, Hiroshima, Uwajima and Yokohama.
The voyage also fulfills a dream of late Voyaging Society President Myron "Pinky" Thompson, who wanted the Hokule'a to eventually sail to Japan.
Myron Thompson's grandfather Isaac Hakuole Harbottle was sent by Kalakaua to learn Japanese history and culture and to teach people about Hawaii.
Thompson's son Nainoa served as the navigator for the Yap-Okinawa leg.
The Hokule'a took about 11 days and traveled more than 1,000 miles from Yap, after completing a more than 4,300-mile voyage from Hawaii through Micronesia.
The trip marks another milestone in voyages of the Hokule'a since it began its landmark sail from Hawaii to Tahiti in 1976, using traditional Pacific way-finding methods of navigation and supporting the assertion that Polynesians were able to navigate long distances over the ocean before Europeans.