Kauai Yankees return from Japan

LIHUE — Lenny Rapozo, the director for the county’s Department of Parks and Recreation and father of one of the Kauai Yankees, said the Kauai kids can play.

“They played six games against teams from Japan and finished 3-3. They know they can hold up against teams in the world,” Rapozo said.

The Kauai Yankees and Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr. returned from a goodwill mission in Japan to promote Kauai as a sports and cultural-exchange destination Sunday.

The Yankees is a Little League team made up of Lihue players who played six games against Little League teams from Iwaki City and Hiroshima, Japan.

“Mahalo to Iwaki Mayor Toshio Shimizu, Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui and Gov. Hideto Yuzaki for being such wonderful hosts during our visit,” Carvalho said. “A big mahalo to all the parents and coaches who made this trip possible for our players.”

During the group’s stay in Iwaki, players from Kauai spent an evening with host families in addition to visiting various landmarks in Iwaki and Hiroshima.

“The trip was educational, cultural, and an awesome opportunity for our keiki,” Carvalho said. “This was a successful trip.”

One of the objectives of the trip was to encourage Little League teams from Iwaki, Hiroshima and other cities to come to Kauai in the near future, Rapozo said.

Carvalho visited Iwaki and signed the Kauai-Iwaki Sister City pact in March 2011. During a visit in September 2016, discussions started between Carvalho and Mayor Shimizu to bring the Kauai Yankees to Japan.

“We are hopeful that our paths will cross again, and Kauai will be able to show our Japan ‘ohana the love and aloha they showed each and every one of us,” Carvalho said.

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