Kū Holo Mau: 2007 Voyage for Mau
Kū Holo Komohana: 2007 Voyage to Japan
Introduction: Kū Holo Komohana, 2007 Voyage to Japan (April 12-July 1)
Okinawa, Amami, and Kumamoto (April 12-May 7)
Nomozaki, Nagasaki, and Fukuoka (May 7-May 19)
Oshima and Hiroshima (May 19-May 27)
Uwajima (May 28-June 4)
Yokohama (June 4-June 23)
Derek Ferrar: In the Land of the Western Sun. (Published in Hana Hou: The Magazine of Hawaiian Airlines. Vol. 10, No. 5. October/November 2007. Photos by Monte Costa.)

Ku Holo Komohana / 2007 Voyage to Japan

Yokohama (June 4-23)

June 5

Hokule‘a left Uwajima just as the storm front passed, to make it to Yokohama on time for a ceremonial welcome June 9. Kama Hele, Hokule‘a’s motor-sailing escort boat, towed us into the brisk winds and 8-10 foot swells. We would never have made it to Yokohama in time for the planned arrival if we had to sail there.

Ahead of us, the Kama Hele’s mast swung from side to side, rhythmically, like the arm of a metronome, and her hull bucked up and down as large swells rolled beneath her. Even the seaworthiest of Kama Hele’s crew bunked down for the night, were feeling queasy. The crew on the canoe, with its more stable double hull construction, was fine.

As we moved past Ashizuri, we could see the beam of lighthouse at the cape flashing beneath a cloudy night sky.

Lighthouse at Cape Ashizuri

Captain Bruce Blankenfeld didn’t want to cross the busy Kii strait (eastern Inland Sea entrance to the ports of Osaka and Kobe) in the dark, so after traveling along the southern coast of Shikoku, we pulled into Muroto at the southeastern tip of Shikoku, before dawn. The wind and seas had calmed down.

June 6

The next day we were invited to the Bade Haus, a public bath with saltwater jets to massage each area of the head, neck, torso, and legs down to the soles of the feet. It was located next to the Utoco Deep Sea Therapy Center, the world’s first deep-sea water spa, established by make-up artist Shu Uemura, which had just opened in March. The deep sea water is supposedly pollution free below 3,200 feet and also rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, and other salutary trace elements missing from surface water, therefore having a therapeutic value. Japan has six places where slow ocean currents allow a lower layer of water to rise toward the surface; one of these places is offshore of Muroto, from where it is pumped to land.

The crew walked back to the harbor along a rocky coastline associated with Buddhist Priest Kobo Daishi, who achieved enlightenment in a cave along the coast.

June 7 Hokule’a and Kama Hele enroute to Yokohama

Hokule’a and Kama Hele departed Muroto, on the island of Shikoku, at 1:30 a.m. yesterday, and made it across the Kii Strait by 12 noon. The shipping traffic was not as heavy as expected, but the crossing was made safer by daylight. A highlight of the crossing was sighting a pod of small whales.

At Cape Shiono, the vessels went under the bridge connecting the town of Kushimoto to Oshima island.

Kushimoto is small fishing town and we spotted a boat towing in a large cage used for aquaculture. Just past the town we could see the backside of the famous shoreline formation called Hashigui iwa, bridge post rocks, which look like the remnants of a ruined bridge.

We traveled all last night and today, arriving at Cape Iro on Izu peninsula at about 3 p.m., then on into the sea of Sagami, past Toshima and Oshima, two volcanic offshore islands. The crew was looking fo Mt. Fuji as we went past the Izu Peninsula, but a haze hung over the island making for poor visibility.

The traffic in and around the Sea of Sagami was heavier than in the Kii strait, with as many as a dozen ships and fishing boats leaving in or entering from different directions. A couple of pod of dolphins swam by. Piles of birds, shearwaters and petrels, appeared. A couple of sleek, speedy fishing boats changed their courses and motored up to get a closer look at the first Polynesian voyaging canoe to enter the Sea of Sagami.

As the sunsets at 7 p.m. the temperature has dropped. And everyone is bundled up in cold weather gear. All are doing well.

Hokule’a and Kama Hele are expected to arrive at Pukari Pier, in Minato Mirai, Yokohama, on June 9 JST (June 8 HST). In the meantime, it plans to visit Kamakura to honor the work of Tiger Espere in Japan.

As we arrived in the Sea of Sagami two days before the welcome ceremony at Yokohama, we pulled into Miura, a small fishing town at the tip of Miura Peninsula.

June 8: Kamakura

The next day we traveled north to Kamakura, in Sagami Bay, in honor of big-wave rider, fisherman, and cultural expert Tiger Espere, who spent time in Kamakura teaching Hawaiian culture and verifying “the ancestral connection between Japan's pre-Buddhist settlers and native Hawaiians” (a mission given to him by Tahitian elders). He established the Japan-Hawaiian Voyaging Society and was planning to build a voyaging canoe to reconnect the two cultures.

Tiger steering Hokule'a across the Kaiwi Channel, Moloka'i to O'ahu; Hawai'iloa sailing in the background.

On board Hokule'a for the visit to Kamakura was Loui Kaninau-Cabebe, Tiger's brother who is carrying on with Tiger's dream of building a voyaging canoe for Japan.

Loui riding into Kamakura on Hokule'a.

Hokule'a and Kamahele anchored off Yuigahama, the beach in front of Kamakura city. The vessels were greeted by a couple of jet skis (introduced by Brian Keaulana), about fifty or sixty surfers and paddle boarders, and six outrigger canoes.

Loui chanted from the canoe, and a halau, formed by Tiger and under the direction of Misa Nakatomi, chanted and danced on shore along with a hundred or so well-wishers.

It was Tiger's dream that one day Hokule'a would visit Kamakura and inspire the people there to build a voyaging canoe. For Tiger, Loui explained, a canoe was not just a physical artifact, but a spiritual way.

The celebration in Tiger's honor was blessed by warm, sunny weather; most of the crew took advantage of this time to jump in for a swim or a paddle with the locals. The water was a little chillier than in Hawai'i, but refreshing.

Before leaving for Yokohama the next day, the crew was joined by Nainoa Thompson, Kaniela Akaka, James Hugho, Sam Monaghan, Kentaro Matsuo (a friend of Taku and a canoe paddler), and Saki Uchida, representing the youth of Japan.

June 9: Yokohama

Hokule'a and Kama Hele arrived in Yokohama, at Pukari Sanbashi pier, at 11 a.m., exactly on time for the welcome ceremony. As the canoe approached the dock, Captain Blankenfeld cut the tow and sailed her into the dock in light winds. Regarding the precise arrival, Blankenfeld smiled and said that he was learning from the Japanese about arriving and departing on-time. After the stormy night coming around Ashizuri Cape, the vessels were blessed with good weather for ocean travel.

Hokule'a and Kama Hele were escorted into Tokyo Bay by eight vessels of supporters, as well as the Janmar boat and the official boat from the port of Yokohama. Two news helicopters buzzed overhead.

Hundreds of people lined the area around Pukari-sanbashi pier to greet Hokule'a, including official greeters from the Port of Yokohama and a contingent of the Royal Order of Kamehameha, arrayed in their dark suits and red and yellow capes.

The Royal Order was represented on the canoe by Leighton Tseu who chanted and spoke of the connection between Hokule'a's arrival and the arrival of King David Kalakaua in 1881; Tseu also said that Hokule'a's visit was not just about the past but about the future, and he looked forward to a deeper relationship between Hawai'i and Japan. Kaniela Akaka, who joined the canoe as protocol officer for PVS, offered a chant as well.

On the dock to welcome the crews with a chant in return was Kumu Keli’i Taua, with Halau Keala o Kamaile (affliliated with Keali'i Reischel); Loui Kaninau-Cabebe with the halau formed by Tiger Espere under Misa Nakatomi; Sandii and World Peace, who also performed a special chant/dance to Hokule'a at the welcome ceremony the next day. [For Photos of the Yokohama welcome, see the posting of Weblog URLs courtesy of Kato Kosei.]

June 10, 2007 Historic Voyage Completed (PVS Press Release)

Yokohama, Japan – Hokule’a’s 149-day, 7,375 mile voyage through Micronesia and Japan came to a triumphant end in Yokohama Bay on Friday, June 8th as the double-hulled canoe pulled up to the dock at about 4pm, Hawai’i time – Saturday, June 9th at 11am, Japan time. Several hundred people greeted the crews of Hokule’a, captained by Bruce Blankenfeld, and the escort boat Kama Hele, captained by Mike Taylor. This voyage was Hokule’a’s first to the western Pacific and the first time she has sailed to nations outside of Polynesia.

With a blow of the pu, first by Taylor then by one of two Hokule’a crewmember’s who was on the entire voyage Atwood Makanani, Hokule’a arrived at her final port, the same port where King David Kalakaua arrived 126 years ago. On board Hokule’a, Kahu Kaniala Akaka chanted a blessing as Hokule’a docked. On the dock to welcome the crews with a chant in return was Kumu Keli’i Taua. That was followed by the welcoming protocol of the Royal Order of Kamehameha. Four members were on the dock while one member, Leighton Tseu, was on Hokule’a. They were there to greet Hokule’a and honor King Kalakaua’s historic arrival in 1881, which established the King’s relationship with Emperor Meiji and lead to the opening of immigration from Japan to Hawai’i.

Also among those on hand to greet the vessels: Hawai’i expatriates, including sumotori Akebono or Chad Rowan and Yamato or George Kalima, both retired in Japan now, Japanese hula halau, and representative from about 50 Japanese media outlets.

A ceremony was held on dock, followed by a press conference. Another welcome ceremony was held at noon yesterday, followed by a dinner reception hosted by the government of Yokohama. Most crewmembers will remain in Yokohama for the week to conduct canoe tours, give presentations at schools and make courtesy calls. On Saturday, June 16th (Friday, Hawai’i time), a two-hour final event will be held involving Governor Linda Lingle, Amy Hanaiali’ Gilliom, Pukalani Hula Hale and Mi’ilani Cooper’s halau.

Polynesian Voyaging Society President Nainoa Thompson commends and thanks the more than 200 crewmembers who participated in this voyage, the leadership, the hundreds of volunteers, the voyage sponsors and supporters for making this historic voyage possible, and in the end successful and with everyone safe and well. Thompson told the people of Yokohama that the success of the voyage to Japan and the kindness with which they were received at each of the 8 ports, gives encouragement that Hokule’a will continue to voyage beyond the Polynesian Triangle, to touch people in a way that celebrates what makes each other unique while honoring shared values and encouraging the caring of our environment and one another in a never-ending endeavor to foster peace and harmony.

Nainoa with the Uwajima-to-Yokohama Crew. Photo by Kato Kosei

June 10 Nainoa speaks at the welcoming ceremony

At a welcoming ceremony on June 10, near where Hokule'a was docked with Kama Hele in Yokohama, Nainoa Thompson spoke about the tremendous effort it took to complete the voyage from Hawai'i to Micronesia to Japan, and thanked the numerous people who made it possible, starting with Mau; the captains and crews of the canoes and escort boat; those who contributed various navigational, cultural, and educational expertise both for this project and in the past; those who provided support at home and in the places the vessels stopped; those who were being trained and are committed to carrying on the voyaging in the future. While about 260 people sailed the vessels on this voyage, Nainoa estimated that at least five times as many provided support. He also noted that the planning and training for this voyage started over five years ago.

Nainoa said that the voyage to Japan, Ku Holo La Komohana (“Sail On to the Western Sun”), started as an opportunity to retell stories such as King David Kalakaua's 1881 visit to Yokohama, and the events that followed, including the study abroad program sending Hawaiian youth to Japan for the first time as part of a globalized education program; and the arrival of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, the tremendous contributions they made, and the personal relationships and caring that took place between people of different ethnic backgroundsin Hawai'i.

Isaac Harbottle (1871-1948), Nainoa's great grandfather, was sent to Japan from 1883-1888 by King David Kalakaua in a study abroad program the King set up after his visit to Emperor Meiji in Edo (Tokyo) in 1881.

Nainoa also focused on how the voyage to Japan has brought gifts we didn't expect and couldn't have imagined before it began. He enumerated these gifts and thanked the welcoming crowd for each of them. One gift was allowing the crews to experience the extraordinary beauty of the islands, forests, and seas of Japan that even someone like himself from the beautiful islands of Hawai'i might envy.

Hokule's Sailing in the Inland Sea. Photo by Kato Kosei

Another gift was the caring for culture, heritage, and ancestry that he witnessed. He was amazed that the crews were not just able to walk on sacred grounds but to sleep in Daisho-in Temple on Miyajama, a temple that had a 1,000 year old history. He realized that to create such a history, generation after generation had to be committed to protecting and preserving such special places.

At Daisho-in Temple in Miyajima, the crew folded paper cranes to present at the Children's Peace Monument in Hiroshima

Another gift was the way in which the people of Nagasaki, Hiroshima, and Uwajima were willing to put aside anger and bitterness and to focus on healing; how Nagasaki and Hiroshima had been rebuilt from the devastation of the atomic bombings and were now safer, cleaner, and healthier than other cities in the world.

Sky Takemoto presenting the crews' paper cranes at the Children's Peace Monument

How the families of the Ehime Maru tragedy have reached out to Hokule'a in order to create cultural bridges and understanding. For the families, Hokule'a brought the souls of those lost at sea in Hawai'i back home to Uwajima.

The crew presented to the families of Ehime Maru flowers and handmade feather kahili created by Kaleinani Brown, along with wooden stands made by one of the builders of Hawai’iloa, Jerry Ongais. Crew member Kanako Uchida served as translator for Nainoa.

Another gift was the strength and clarity of the people he met who were committed to world peace: Those from Iwaijima who presented Captain Baybayan with a flame from the atomic bombing in order to quench it, symbolically putting out the flames of war.

Captain Chad Baybayan received the flame of war to douse from the crew from Iwaijima.

And those in Uwajima who presented Nainoa with a miniature of the Taihei temple bell of peace to ring, the same kind of replicas given to Khruschev and J.F. Kennedy at the height of the Cold War in order to encourage them to settle their disputes peacefully.

Miniature of the Uwajima Peace Bell in Nainoa's hands. Photo by Monte Costa

Another gift was the generosity, kindness, and aloha for the crews at each stop. Crew members spoke about people taking time out of the day to guide the crew to places they needed to get to. Crew member Nanea Baird focused on two memorable people, both in their 80s: a fisherman of Miyajima who met the crew on his home island and went out and caught 27 fish to feed the crew at the welcome party in Hiroshima.

Miyajima fisherman with crew member Maka

And a carpenter on Oshima who fashioned pepeiao ("ears" to hold tricing lines) for the canoe so that the crew could raise the crab claw sails.

Fujii-san, the 80 year old carpenter who contributed pepeiao to Hokule'a; with Nainoa. Photo by Miyazaki Masako

Another gift was the children, exemplified by the performers at the various welcoming ceremonies. Nainoa was inspired by the dignity and pride the youth expressed in their performances and hoped that all children could be nurtured and taught to be as strong, clear, and disciplined in their chosen paths as these children were.

Taiko performers at Yokohama. Photo by Na'alehu Anthony

Another gift was the enabling of more hopes and dreams. The voyage to Japan took Hokule'a "outside of the boundary of our culture," and there was some uncertainty before the voyage about what this new experience would be like and how it would turn out.

Ka'iu Kimura (left) and Ka'iu Murphy(right) with a new friend

Nainoa was delighted to find that there were core values that were shared between Hawai'i and Japan, and that the crews were welcomed warmly wherever they went; and they were able to both teach about their voyaging traditions and learn about the traditions of others.

Captain/Navigator Chadd Paishon and Asian Pacific Leadership student and translator Kyoko Ikeda.

The Japan experience has led him to believe that Hokule'a would continue to sail and revisit places it has been to to reaffirm old friendships and explore new places in order to build bridges and spread the values the canoe has come to symbolize--caring for and protecting the environment, perpetuating culture and traditions, caring for children, honoring elders and ancestry, healing what has been torn apart, promoting world peace.

Hokule'a's Ki'i of Knowledge with a lei of paper cranes representing a hope for world peace.

Walking among the frenetic rush hour pedestrian and auto traffic of the massive, high-rise, high-tech, futuristic development of Minato Mirai 21 in Yokohama, where Hokule'a is anchored and where the environment is modern and artificial, all concrete, steel and glass, you can understand the appeal of Hokule'a to people, perhaps a minority, who long for a connection to cultural traditions and nature. A resident from Japan wrote to PVS: "I went to Yokohama on June 11 and 13 to see Hokule'a. I took my kids with me on Monday. I think there're a few more important things than going to school in our lives and to see Hokule'a is one of them. It was so fantastic to get on board, see inside, listen to the lecture from Takuji, imagine how's the voyage by canoe. My kids will never forget that day. I want to tell you that I really appreciate your Hokule'a 's voyage. It brought us countless seeds of dreams and hopes. We will grow them bigger and stronger. Thank you so much."

Minato Mirai 21, a futuristic new development in the port of Yokohama.

At one of the press conferences, asked what he thought about GPS in relationship to star navigation, Nainoa said emphatically, "I reject GPS. It diminishes our lives and disconnects us from nature. Nature provides us everything we need. GPS is a box with no connection to nature, only numbers."

Crew members Taku Araki and Pomai Bertelmann

A special event in Hokule'a's stay in Yokohama was a courtesy visit to Princess Takamado of the Imperial family by a contingent from PVS: Bruce Blankenfeld, Leighton Tseu, Ka'iulani Murphy, Mahealani Pai, and Nainoa Thompson. The princess is interested in star-navigation. The visit was scheduled for half an hour but lasted for an hour and a half.

6/17: Kamuinomi

A contingent of Ainu, whose homeland is the northern island of Ainu Mosir (Hokkaido), visited Hokule'a on June 16 and performed a prayer ceremony (Kamuinomi). The ainu were led by Mr. Urakawa Haruzo, a respected ekashi (elder) and president of the Tokyo Ainu Society. Hokule'a crew members Ka'iulani Murphy, Kaniela Akaka, and Leighton Tseu joined in the ceremony. Photo by Jin Takuma. Notes from Kato Kosei. See Comments and Sharing and the Photo Gallery for more on the ceremony and visit.

6/21: Hokule'a: On the Way Home

Yesterday, Hokule'a was lifted and loaded on to NYK's container ship Settsu.

The ship is scheduled to depart Yokohama at about 10pm Hawai'i time tonight and expected to arrive in Honolulu Harbor next week (6/30), after which PVS will hold a press conference bringing closure to the voyage. The escort boat Kama Hele will be sailed back to Hawai'i. She is scheduled to depart Yokohama on Saturday 6/23, with captain Mike Weindl and five Japanese crew members.

July 1, 2007 Hokule'a: Home Again

Hokule'a arrived home safely this morning aboard the NYK container ship Settsu. It was beautiful to see her back home. At about 9 am a massive Hawaii Stevedores, Inc. crane lifted Hokule'a off the deck, swung around and placed her on tarps and blocks on the dock.

About 20 crewmembers were there and immediately sprayed the dried limu on the hulls and scraped it off.

By 11 am the crane lifted her again and placed back in the familiar waters of O'ahu.

She was then towed to her home at Honolulu Community College's Marine Education Training Center. (See the Gallery for more photos.)

We want to thank again NYK Line and the stevedores at Pier 1 who did a beautiful job and took such care in getting her back on the 'aina for cleaning and into the water. We will keep you posted as to what's next. Two major events are taking family members and the ashes of the late Captain Kawika Kapahulehua on a sail to Ni'ihau, followed by the drydocking of Hokule'a.

Thanks again to everyone who made the 2007 voyages a success.

Aloha, Kathy

July 17, 2007: Kama Hele arrives home

July 17, 2007: The motor-sailboat Kama Hele, which escorted Hokule'a and Alingano Maisu to Micronesia and Japan under Captain Mike Taylor, arrived home yesterday afternoon after sailing/motoring 4,000 miles from Japan to Hawai'i in 23 days. Captain Mike Weindl and six Japanese crewmembers left Yokohama on June 23rd and encountered some rough weather the first few days, but crewmembers and Kama Hele are all in fine shape. Kama Hele is at her old slip at Honolulu Community College's Marine Education Training Center (METC) on Sand Island. We are very grateful to the captain and crew for taking on this task of bringing Kama Hele home safely.