Moriyama connects with Kaua‘i

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Chieko Okumura, chaperone for the Moriyama high school students and director of the Moriyama International Friendship Association, back left, learns the “Aloha Hula” by following Kaua‘i High School student Kate Nakamura, front, on Monday during the day of aloha at the Kaua‘i Museum in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Kekoa Tango, of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala, far left, and Kaua‘i High School student Kate Nakamura, right, help lead Moriyama students Nanami Nishikawa, in black, Suzuna Arahori, in yellow, and Rintaro Yamamoto, in learning the “Aloha Hula” on Monday at the Kaua‘i Museum in Lihu‘e.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / The Garden Island

    Learners and their teachers meet at Kaua‘i Museum in Lihu‘e on Monday for a day of aloha, where the Moriyama high school students learned aloha. From left are Kekoa Tango, of Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala, Kaua‘i High School student Kate Nakamura, Hiroko Kunioka, seated, a Hiroshima survivor, Moriyama students Nanami Nishikawa, Suzuna Arahori, Rintaro Yamamoto, Art Umezu, the county’s special liason with Japan delegations; Michiru Umezu of the Kaua‘i Museum, seated front; Pearl Shimizu of the Japanese Cultural Society, seated right; Mayu Kawata Langford and Chieko Okumura, the Moriyama students’ chaperone and director of the Moriyama International Friendship Association.

LIHU‘E — Three high school students from Moriyama, Japan, all winners of an English language proficiency contest sponsored by Moriyama, arrived on Kaua‘i on Sunday and met their respective host families.

Monday was a state Department of Education school holiday because of Prince Kuhio Day, but that did not stop the learning by the Moriyama students who are part of Moriyama Project Yume, as they were immersed in a day of aloha at the Kaua‘i Museum. They were given an introduction to the Hawaiian language by Kekoa Tango, a performer with Halau Ka Lei Mokihana O Leina‘ala.

Community volunteers with a wide range of knowledge put in their mana‘o in providing the Japanese students with the non-textbook lessons in everyday Hawai‘i. That included the learning of “Aloha Hula,” a song written by Art Umezu with hula taught to school children in the four sister cities Kaua‘i enjoys with Japan.

Other activities before the Moriyama guests enjoy a day at Kaua‘i High School included lei making, a special ‘ukulele lesson for student Rintaro Yamamoto, a tour of the Kaua‘i Museum with Director Chucky Boy Chock, and the creation of orizuru, or paper cranes, by Hiroko Kunioka, a native of Hiroshima and survivor of the U.S. atomic bombing of that city.

The orizuru will be presented to Katsukuni Tanaka, a survivor of the Hiroshima bombing, who will present it to Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui in time for the World G7 Summit that will take place in Hiroshima in May. President Joe Biden is expected to participate in the summit.

Tanaka, a member of the Japan-America Society of Hiroshima, has ties to Kaua‘i when he coordinated the Kaua‘i Yankees Little League baseball team to play in goodwill games in Hiroshima in 2017. He also coordinated a tour for Kumu Hula Kapu Kinimaka-Alquiza and halau Na Hula O Kaohikukapulani, a halau Nakamura formerly danced with, in 1987.

Moriyama Project Yume was established by Moriyama City in 2019 to provide opportunities for high school students to experience home and school life, and learn about Hawaiian and island culture in an English-speaking environment while on Kaua‘i.

The COVID-19 pandemic and its global impact caused the cancellation of the program in 2020 and 2021, before resuming in 2022 with an online class for seven Moriyama students, who got to speak with Mayor Derek S.K. Kawakami via Zoom.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 808-245-0453 or


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