PUHI — Residents are being invited to welcome and “host” a cadet from the Nippon Maru by purchasing a ticket to a Jan. 7 luau. The event will be held at the Kauai Community College from 5:30 to 9 p.m.
“By purchasing a ticket to the luau, you will host a cadet by sitting with him or her at the table,” said Kyoko Ikeda of the Nippon Maru Welcome Committee. “The ticket cost of $40 includes the cost of the cadet’s meal and your meal. Up to two adults may host a cadet on a ticket for $60.”
The Nippon Maru, a Japanese training ship, departed for Nawiliwili from Yokoyama port on Dec. 10, said Ikeda, the International Education coordinator at KCC.
“It was an impressive sight to see,” Ikeda said. “We were able to see some of the students who came to KCC in March, and they are all so excited to return to Kauai aboard Nippon Maru. Dennis Chun and myself were able to meet with the captain as well as a few of the key people at the Maritime Agency to speak about their visit to Nawiliwili.”
Gerald Hirata of the Nippon Maru Welcome Committee said the luau is just one of the events planned to welcome the Nippon Maru back to Kauai.
“This year’s Nippon Maru training course did not include a stop on Kauai until it was discovered that Tomoki Oku is the captain of this ship,” Hirata said. “In 2007, Oku, then first officer, was assigned to assist the Hokulea navigate the Japanese waters. Oku was introduced to Polynesian seafaring techniques and initiated a partnership and exchange program with the Kauai Community College as a professor of Toyama College.”
During the past seven years, all of the maritime colleges in Japan sent faculty and students to Kauai. Many participated in the creation of Namahoe, Kauai’s sailing canoe that is a sister of Hokulea. Twelve Japanese students who participated in this program are now cadets aboard Nippon Maru.
The last time the Nippon Maru visited Kauai was in July 1983, Hirata said.
“From the 1950s through the 1980s, the Nippon Maru and Kaiwo Maru docked at Port Allen, seven and 14 times, respectively,” Hirata said. “The community received these ships with warmth and hospitality. Many lifelong friendships were forged, including marriages to cadets. The aloha spirit of the community impressed both crew and cadets and they repeated visits to Kauai. When the Nippon Maru arrives on Jan. 6, this is now a reality and adds to the ongoing connection between the people of Kauai and the people of Japan.”
The Nippon Maru does have one more request: dried coconuts are needed.
“Training ships use coconuts to scrub the decks, and they have a hard time getting enough coconuts,” Ikeda said. “If anyone has access to coconuts, they would want some coconuts brought to the ship while it is docked at Nawiliwili from Jan. 6 through 9. They want about 50 coconuts.”