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Rediscovering my "Roots" in Hawaii

Happy New Year!! I hope everyone's 2017 is off to a fabulous start. :)
明けましておめでとうございます!今年もどうぞ宜しくお願い致します。

As I shared on my social media, I recently visited Hawaii to film for a New Year's Special TV documentary that was focused on my upbringing and "roots." The last time I went to Hawaii was when I just turned three years old with my mother, father, brother, and grandmother. (Never did I think I would revisit for TV filming!) When you think of Hawaii, the first thing that comes to mind would probably be the beach, delicious food, etc. (which I was looking forward to very much), however, that wasn't the main reason why I visited. I flew to the island to rediscover my "roots" by interacting with Japanese Americans living in Hawaii.

私が3歳になった時、母、父、兄、祖母と一緒に初めてハワイに行きました。ハワイといえば「リゾート地」というイメージがあり、ビーチや美味しい食べ物がフォーカスされる事が多いですが、今回ハワイを訪れたのには別の理由がありました。ずっとアメリカで育った私の「ルーツ」をたどるため、ハワイの方達に直接お話を聞かせて頂き、ハワイの歴史に触れる事ができた素敵な旅となりました。

If you missed the TV airing, you can watch the full episode ➡︎ HERE!

テレビ放送を見逃してしまった方は下記リンクから映像をご覧頂けます。
➡︎ http://www.fujisankei.com/en/video_library/living/melodee-in-hawaii.html


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First off, getting to Hawaii was quite a journey. My original flight had aircraft issues they couldn't solve after boarding us all, so I ended up having to take off 15 hours later than planned. I was worried this entire filming wasn't going to happen, but thankfully, I was able to get to Hawaii in the end. *phew* Everything we had planned had to be entirely rescheduled, but I was very thankful that everyone I encountered during this journey and the crew was incredibly understanding and kind enough to make last minute adjustments in order to film for this. My body was extremely exhausted after the long delay/flight + jetlag, but once I landed, I got ready and went straight into filming at Waikiki Beach. Luckily, the sun was shining bright this day (even though the forecast said it was going to rain all week!), and I instantly felt energized. I felt very grateful to be welcomed by wonderful people and weather, and today, I'd like to share my experiences through this blog post.

でも実は、今回ハワイへたどり着くまでが大変で、飛行機が15時間以上遅れて出発するなど。。。この企画自体ができなくなってしまうのではないかと心配になりました(;_;) その為スケジュールも大幅に変更し、取材先の皆様、スタッフの方々の敏速な対応と優しさで、どうにか無事撮影を終えることができました。今回の取材は取材の内容だけでなく、ハワイの方々の誠実さと優しさに包まれた忘れられないものとなりました。そのハワイのエピソードをご紹介します。

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I was expecting Hawaii to be very warm, but it was quite cold and VERY windy!!
ハワイは一年中とっても暑いイメージがあったのですが、この日のビーチはすご〜く風が強くて意外と寒かったです!! でもやっぱり景色はため息が出るほど美しく、海を眺めているだけで癒されました。

I had the wonderful opportunity of learning hula from Kumu Blaine Kamalani Kia and the Women of Halau Ka Waikahe Lani Malie! It was my very first time doing hula, so they showed me the moves and taught me the meaning behind each movement. I strongly felt that dance (in all forms and genres) is truly a language of its own with no words necessary. After this, I continued filming by visiting several shops (such as International Marketplace and ABC Stores) to find the perfect souvenirs and a beauty mask that you can only get in Hawaii. :D

続いて、はじめてのフラを体験!! フラとバレエは全く別のジャンルですが、言葉なしで、一つ一つの動きを通して表現する事は同じ。歴史あるフラをプロの先生に教えていただき、もう一つのハワイの魅力を体験できました。

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The next day, I met Mr. Lloyd Kawakami of the famous (and oldest) family-owned Hawaiian aloha wear, 'IOLANI. Lloyd-san's grandfather immigrated to Hawaii back in the day as an issei (first generation Japanese), and Lloyd-san's father began the 'IOLANI brand. I was so surprised to find out that the famous aloha shirt was first created from a Japanese kimono and that it was created by Japanese people! The photo above was taken on day two when we returned to Waikiki Beach to film around sunset hour. I never get to really experience the calming sound of waves and relaxation in New York City, so I instantly felt my mind and body feel so refreshed.

次の日はハワイで最も歴史が長いアロハシャツ&アロハウェアのブランド、「イオラニ」で撮影。「イオラニ」ブランドを二世のお父様から受け継ぎ、現在経営しているロイド・カワカミさんにアロハシャツの歴史をたっぷり教えて頂きました。ハワイを象徴するものの一つであるアロハシャツですが、実は、日本からハワイに移住してきた一世の人たちが生み出したものだったと教えて頂き驚きました。

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Living in a very busy, fast-paced environment in NYC doesn't really allow me enough time to sit down and think about my identity and roots... However, I got to visit the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii for the first time. I must say I was in absolute shock when I read the heartbreaking words and saw countless photos of Hawaii's history. (I will refrain from posting too many photos here because I would truly like every person who visits Hawaii to experience it themselves in person.) It was an extremely eye-opening experience to discover the unimaginable hardships the isseis and niseis went through (first and second generation Japanese), and they are the reason why the people of Hawaii and Japanese Americans can live proudly today.

ニューヨークで毎日忙しい生活を送っていると、自分のアイデンティティやルーツについて深く考える機会がなかなかないのですが、今回初めてハワイの日本文化センターに行く事ができ、じっくりと考える機会を頂きました。当時、一世の方達が夢と希望を持って移民したハワイでしたが、私たちには想像もつかない苦労と苦しみがあったという事を学びました。当時の方達の言葉にすごく重みを感じ、展示されていた写真の数々を眺めていると胸が苦しくなります。一世、二世のみなさんの「苦労」「我慢」「頑張り」があったからこそ、今こうして日系人は胸を張って生きていけているのだと実感し、是非日本からの観光客の方々にも訪れて頂きたい場所だと思いました。

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After having the tour with Lloyd-san, we sat down and spoke for nearly an entire hour regarding the history of Japanese Americans and our dreams. Hearing Lloyd-san's heartfelt words really made me realize that we cannot take it for granted and must never forget the true heroes that fought for our generation and on.

文化センターを一緒に訪れたロイドさんと、およそ1時間、ハワイとハワイの人々の歴史について語り合いました。私たちは今、非常に恵まれた環境でアメリカで生活が出来ていますが、それは当時命をかけてでも将来のジェネレーションのために努力し続けた日系人のおかげだということを忘れてはならないと強く思いました。

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I also met the most adorable local girls in Hawaii. They mentioned that they have never been to Japan but cherish Japan and the culture very much. I was so touched by how pure their hearts were and how connected they were with their own culture despite being so far away.
そして今回の旅で出会った小さな女の子たち。彼女たちは日系5世。日本に行った事がないと話していたのに、ものすごく可愛い笑顔で「日本の文化が大好き!」と言っていたのがとても印象的で、もしかしたら日本に住んでいる同じ歳の子供達よりも日本を愛しているのでは?と思えるくらいでした。

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On my last day in Hawaii, I woke up at 3:00am so we could go see the sunrise at the beach in Hawaii. (It is a Japanese tradition to see the sunrise for New Year's, so it was perfect for this.) Unfortunately, the forecast said it was going to rain, so it was very dark, gloomy, and windy as ever when we were heading there. I was unable to see the beautiful sunrise in Hawaii, however, after I finished speaking about my feelings looking back on this journey, the sunshine miraculously peaked through the clouds! It was only for a short moment, but I felt like the sun came out to show me the beauty of Hawaii one last time. I could not be more thankful to each and every person I encountered in Hawaii, and for treating me like we have been friends since long ago. Although it was a very short and sweet trip, it was one I'll never forget. I was gifted with lots of love, kindness, and inspiration.... and the glimpse of sunshine I saw on the very last morning was the perfect way to end this journey in Hawaii. :)

ハワイ最終日は日の出を見るために3時に起き、ビーチでの撮影へ向かいました。早朝+ビーチという事で、ハワイというのにあまりの寒さにジャケット2枚とダウンを着て撮影に臨みました。残念ながら天気予報は「雨」。日の出を見る事ができなかったのですが、奇跡的に雨は降らず。。。「今回の旅を振り返って」の撮影が終わり空を眺めたら、太陽が少しだけ雲の隙間から顔を出しました!ハワイの人達だけでなく、最後にハワイの太陽までもが優しくしてくれた気がしました。短い時間ではありましたが、ハワイに来ることが出来て本当に良かったです!

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Thank you so much for reading, and I hope that your 2017 will be the best year yet!

皆様にとりまして、2017年がさらに素晴らしい一年になりますように!
今年も、どうぞ宜しくお願い致します。



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January 3, 2017 11:53 AM

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Melodee Melodee

TV Reporter & Director, Bilingual MC, YouTube Artist, Professional Ballet Dancer.
ロサンゼルス育ち、ニューヨークを拠点に活動しているテレビリポーター&ディレクター、MC(日英両語)、バレエダンサー。全て一人で作成しているYouTubeチャンネル(合計登録者数 30万人以上)では、英語と日本語で世界に向けて様々なジャンルの動画を配信!

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Health, Exercise, Beauty, Travel, Cooking, & Lifestyle videos
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