18th Annual Ikaho Merrie Monarch Hula Festival
Our sister city Shibukawa held the 18th Annual Ikaho King Kalakaua the “Merrie Monarch” Hula Festival from August 5th through August 8th at one of the oldest hot spring resorts in Japan, “Ikaho Onsen.”
Over 6,000 hula dancers from all over Japan gathered to show their hula dancing skills at several sites prepared by the Ikaho Hot Spring Tourism Association’s Festival Steering Committee. It also offered Hula and Hawaiian culture workshops conducted by Kumu Hula Frank Hewett. Many enthusiastic hula dancers and instructors attended the rare and valuable classes despite the over 90 degree grueling summer heat.
This year’s Merrie Monarch Festival overall winning halau, “Kaleo O Laka I Ka Hikina O Ka La” under the direction of Kumu Hula Kaleo Trinidad, gave spectacular performances every night. The audience that filled the main event site was mesmerized by the award winning Kane hula group for the four consecutive nights.
In addition to President Hiroshi Suga and his wife Carolyn, the County of Hawaii was represented by Mrs. Roxie Waltjen, the County’s culture and art administrator and the granddaughter of the late Mrs. Dorothy Thompson, Miss Kaycie Saiki, from the Mayor’s Office. Mr. Roland Yamamoto represented the Merrie Monarch Festival in place of President Luana Kawelu.