COURTESY OF TAKASHI ICHIKURA
The double-hulled canoe passed by a torii gate at Hiroshima. The crew is observing King David Kalakaua's visit to Japan in 1881 and the opening of Japanese migration to Hawaii.
Well-wishers and clear skies greet the Hokule'a in Hiroshima
For Sky Takemoto, the Hokule'a's arrival in Hiroshima was completing a circle started in the early 1900s when his great-grandfather jumped ship to live in Hawaii.
Takemoto arrived in Hiroshima as a crew member aboard the double-hulled sailing canoe, putting him in touch with his roots. His Japanese great-grandfather Ryozo Ariyoshi stayed in Hawaii because he loved it so much.
"It's a good feeling to go back to the place where my ancestors came from and see the place they lived before they came to Hawaii and pay respects to them and people here," Takemoto said. "The people here have been very kind to us. They have a lot of aloha."
As the Hokule'a crew members continue their voyage commemorating King David Kalakaua's visit to Japan more than 125 years ago, they are renewing ties, but with a twist: Some of the contingent are Hawaii residents with ties to the land of the rising sun.
Under clear skies, the Hokule'a arrived in Kannon Marina in Hiroshima on Thursday morning Japan time (Wednesday night in Hawaii). "It's really warming up," said Hokule'a crew member Ka'iulani Murphy.
Murphy said the arrival was in stark contrast to the rain, cold and overcast clouds that initially greeted them on an Okinawan leg of their voyage.
The 62-foot-long Hokule'a, which has traveled an estimated 8,000 nautical miles, is expected to remain in Hiroshima for several days.
COURTESY OF YUKA KUDO
Japanese greeted the Hokule'a crew Thursday (Japan time) upon their arrival in Hiroshima.
The prefectures of Hiroshima and Yamaguchi are the areas where recruitment was the largest for Japanese laborers, said Jon Okamura, a professor of ethnic studies at the University of Hawaii.
After Kalakaua opened the door to migration in 1881, upward of 220,000 Japanese laborers came to Hawaii, many to work as contract laborers on sugar plantations, Okamura said. By the 1920s the Japanese made up about 42 percent of the Hawaii population.
Hokule'a crew members are scheduled to make their next stop at Uwajima, the home prefecture of the Ehime Maru, the fishing training vessel that sank in Hawaii waters on Feb. 9, 2001. Nine people, including four students, were killed when the USS Greeneville struck the Ehime Maru as the nuclear submarine was surfacing.
Hokule'a crew members will visit the memorial at Uwajima Fisheries High School.
Earl Okawa, president of the Japan-America Society of Hawaii and also the Ehime Maru Memorial Association in Honolulu, said the visit is for the Hawaii crew members to pay their respects to the bereaved families and people of Ehime prefecture. "In a broader sense, it brings our two peoples together," Okawa said.
Okawa recalled that after the tragedy, the Hokule'a took the bereaved families out to the site of the accident.
While in Hiroshima, crew members were scheduled to visit a memorial to the 70,000 people who died after an atomic bomb was dropped by the United States on the city near the end of World War II.
Hokule'a master navigator Nainoa Thompson said the visit to the Hiroshima memorial is to remember and hope that such an event will never happen again. He said the Hokule'a voyage through Japan helps to strengthen friendships, family ties and mutual respect and develop a global kinship toward peace.
"All these values are the values that help to navigate us toward peace," Thompson said.
Takemoto, a sophomore at Iolani High School, said although he is a crew member on a catamaran in Waikiki, working aboard the Hokule'a is different and has required some adjustment.
But he said he has been studying Japanese language for four years and has helped to talk with Japanese visitors touring the Hokule'a. "It's kind of nice because I can help them out a little bit," he said.