Music, Japanese style

LIHUE — Several hundred people enjoyed the free lunchtime concert Monday at the Kukui Grove Center by the Kyoto Tachibana High School Marching and Brass Band.

Visiting Kauai for the sixth time, the band from Japan enthralled the audience.

“This is amazing,” said Michael Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe’s sentiment echoed throughout the mall’s food court area that resounded with the powerful sound from the award-winning high school band that played at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

“I don’t know if we can make the concert, but I’m getting tickets,” said Daphne McClure of Moloaa Bay Coffee. “Even if we can’t make the concert, we can support them.”

Jonell Kaohelaulii, marketing director for Kukui Grove, said her family helped host several of the band students.

“I couldn’t believe how they made us see what we have,” Kaohelaulii said.

Kaohelaulii said the band, which leaves today, had a four-day stay on Kauai. Besides the free concert at Kukui Grove, it hosted a one-night full concert at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall with proceeds benefiting the Kauai High School and Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School bands.

“We are so fortunate to have a band like this come just to Kauai,” Kaohelaulii said. “They aren’t visiting any of the other islands. They’re here, spending their money here and performing for Kauai people before leaving for home.”

Art Umezu of the county’s Office of Economic Development, Film Commission, said band director Hiroyuki Tanaka was married 10 years ago at Kukui Grove.

Sher Morioka, host family coordinator, said she hopes Kauai will reciprocate with a visit to Kyoto over the next several years.

“They have been coming here every three years since 1998,” Morioka said. “Kauai has never sent a band to Kyoto.”

The Kyoto Tachibana High School Marching and Brass Band is made up of 120 members, including 112 girls and eight boys.

It is also the largest group to visit Kauai since the exchange started in 1998 as a collaboration between then-Mayor Maryanne Kusaka and the late Kauai High School band director Larry McIntosh.

The exchange has continued under the present Kauai High School band director Darryl Miyasato, late Mayor Bryan Baptiste, and current Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr.

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