LIHUE — Shane Tokita is planning to visit the Sapporo Ice Festival in Japan and wanted a preview of what to expect on Friday.
Tokita was one of several hundred people who crowded the Kukui Grove food court area to watch four master ice carvers work their magic with chainsaws, power grinders, and assorted hand tools to create masterpieces out of 300-pound blocks of ice.
Kenji Kagei, one of two carvers from Japan, was a winner at this year’s Sapporo Ice and Snow Festival, his appearance at the Kukui Grove being part of his prize package, said Ron Wiley, event host.
“I heard one of the carvers is from Japan so we need the front row seat,” Tokita said. “I get to see what it’s like before we get there.”
Joining Kagei, Kauai had its own carver, Wallace Nishimoto, taking up one of the spots.
“I don’t really know what I’m going to create yet,” Nishimoto said while waiting on the start of the event.
Mitsuyuki Koya was the second carver from Japan, taking advantage of the break before carving to get a sponsor photo for Stihl saws.
“This is a great start to the holiday season,” said Jonell Kaohelaulii, Kukui Grove marketing manager. “This is the fifth annual event where the ice carvers come here to do a preview ice sculpting before heading to Maui where they will compete in the International Ice Sculpting Exhibition and Competition Saturday in Lahaina.”
Kazuo Yamanoue, a sculptor from Maui, appeared to read Kaohelaulii’s mind as he made short work of his 300-pound block of ice to create an icy Christmas tree made complete by decking out the glistening creation with a string of Christmas lights.
Kagei also created a three-piece holiday display centered with a wreath sashed with a ‘Merry Christmas’ banner and flanked by Christmas trees.
Kaohelaulii said having the holiday theme was a great way to launch the Kukui Grove holiday season, which features the Color Relay Extravaganza and Holiday Craft Fair to benefit the Kapaa Middle School Choir and Ukulele Band, Saturday.
The 20th annual Kauai Christmas Parade with FM97 will officially welcome the holidays at 4 p.m. Nov. 30.
• Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or email@example.com.