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Entrance to Ikaho Onsen. Ikaho Spa has two Hawaii connections. One is with Hawaiian Minister to Japan Robert W. Irwin who had a summer house in Ikaho.
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Ikaho is also a sister city of Hawaii island. During Aug. 5-7, 2003, Ikaho hosted the 7th King Kalakaua Merrie Monarch Hawaiian Festival featuring hula performances by numerous Japanese hula groups.
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In the evenings, Hawaii's top hula halau (winner of the Merrie Monarch Festival in Hawaii) performed as the festival's main event. Photo: Flags of Hawaii and Ikaho town (merged with Shibukawa in 2006).
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Town parking lot with a makeshift stage and main venue of the festival. The "Merrie Monarch" refers to King David Kalakaua who reigned over the Hawaiian Kingdom 1874-1891. He promoted hula in Hawaii as well as Japanese immigration to Hawaii.
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Canopy for the spectators fronting the main outdoor stage.
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Main stage where many Japanese hula troupes performed during the day for three days. Free admission.
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Tahitian dances were also performed.
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Hawaiian souvenirs for sale.
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Ikaho is famous for the Stone Steps lined with shops. A section of it also served as a second hula stage during the day.
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Hula on the Stone Steps 石段街
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Hula workshops are also offered during the day at cost. A famous kumu hula teacher from Hawaii teaches the class.
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Other workshops are held such as ukulele lessons and a lei-making class.
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In the evenings, the overall winner of the annual Merrie Monarch Festival in Hawaii performed on stage. In 2003, it was Hula Halau 'O Kamuela from Oahu. They performed both the ancient hula kahiko dances (pictured here) and modern auana dances in Ikah
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The Ikaho hula festival is officially sanctioned by The Merrie Monarch Festival, held in spring in Hilo, Hawaii. It is the most important and prestigious hula competition.
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Hula is also performed by men. These photos were taken during the 7th Ikaho Hawaiian Festival (Aug. 5-7, 2003).
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They wore a variety of colorful costumes and used various hula instruments such as these frayed bamboo sticks called Pūʻili.
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Modern hula dances such as this one is mainly for tourist entertainment.
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After the bamboo sticks, the girls used a gourd drum called ipu.
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Finally, they use feathered gourd rattles called Ulīʻulī.
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They are professional hula dancers, some of the best in the world.
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The kumu hula is Kamana'o Anson Kauionalani or Kaui for short. He does a solo dance here. The music was performed by a wonderful Hawaiian trio called 'Ale'a.
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Finale. Also see photos of the 2008 Ikaho Hawaiian Festival here.
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