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Kauai news and current events.

Kauai Author hits best-seller list with Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Coloring Book

Best Selling Kauai Author Day of the Dead Coloring Book

On a sunny October day a few years back, Kauai author Monika Mira decided to have a Dia de los Muertos party for her son. As an illustrator, she whipped up some coloring sheets that the kids could color in and make masks with at the party. The party and the coloring sheets were a big hit with the kids. Even some of the parents stayed late just to color. Over the years, the collection of sugar skull illustration began to grow, and the neighborhood kids looked forward to coming over for the annual Dia de los Muertos party.

The following year, Mira created a life-size paper skeleton, which she buried in a mock graveyard outside for a party game. She had the kids dig through piles of leaves in the yard to find all the bones. Then the kids brought the pieces inside to assemble the skeleton. It too was a hit.

Mira decided that the collection of sugar skull illustrations and the life sized skeleton might be useful to teachers, so she placed it on a teachers resource website, where she sold hundreds of copies over the next year. As a published author, Mira thought the components would make a fun coloring book for kids to enjoy worldwide. What started as a party game for the local author, has now turned into an Amazon best-seller.

The Day of the Dead Coloring Book features ten original sugar skulls designs that can be colored in and used to string banners, decorate an alter, make masks, or for a cultural activities in the classroom. A blank skull template is provided for artists who want to create their own designs. Also included is a 4’ child life-sized skeleton. The skeleton takes up about ten pages of the book and can be colored in, cut out and assembled by a child. The life-sized skeleton is perfect for Halloween decorations, party games, or even an anatomy lesson.

Teachers who want to use the book as a classroom resource will find that they can cover lessons in social studies, world cultures, art, and anatomy. Additionally, coloring and assembling the skeleton as a class is a great team-building activity. Students absolutely love creating their own sugar skulls and building the skeleton. Rave reviews have been pouring in from teachers who use this activity in their classrooms. Mom’s who home school are also enjoying the Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Coloring Book.

The Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Coloring Book is available on Amazon. For more information about the book, please visit Lucid Publishing’s website: www.lucid-hawaii.com.

Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. Issues Proclamation Designating Read Across Kauai Day

On Friday, September 27, 2013, Kauai County Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho Jr. issued a Proclamation Designating February 28th, 2014 as Read Across Kauai Day. Members of the Kauai Children’s Authors Guild were recognized for initiating a huge project to support literacy on Kauai. Members of the Guild requested the designation of this day in an effort to raise awareness about the importance of early childhood education and literacy. The Kauai Children’s Authors Guild is kicking off this literacy project early to allow time for fund raising efforts for the purchase and distribution of books.

The concept for the event, which corresponds with the date of the national Read Across America Day, is that Kauai authors will be reading books to preschool and kindergarten students across the island of Kauai. The authors will also be distributing books to these children on the day of the event. The goal for the first year is to raise enough money to put 500-1000 books in Kauai’s student’s and teacher’s hands.

The project provides an opportunity for the children to interact with the authors thereby establishing a personal connection with the books. The authors will also be able to share their experiences about writing and publishing books in order to inspire children to become writers if that is their dream. Allowing children to actually meet and interact with local authors can make a further impact on the children, not just by reinforcing the importance of reading but also by encouraging creativity through writing and artistic expression. Children that participate in the event will also be sent home with information about the program and encouraged to read the books with their parents.

The Kauai Children’s Authors Guild is seeking grants and looking for corporate sponsors to help provide funding for the books. Individuals will also be able to make donations via our website, at one of our books signing events like at the Princess Ka’iulani Keiki Fest or by purchasing books at participating stores where they can be placed into the drop bins. A label will be placed inside each book stating that it was sponsored by the participating organization or individual.

Any business or organization that is interested in sponsoring books for children or for a classroom is encouraged to contact the Kauai Children’s Authors Guild. Schools, libraries and educational organizations that would like to request a visit from an author should also contact the Guild.

Kauai Chock Full of Delicious Food

The dragonfruit is one of Kauai's most exotic-looking fruits. It's as delicious as it looks with a sweet creamy interior. Photo by Daniel Lane / Pono Photo

The dragonfruit is one of Kauai’s most exotic-looking fruits. It’s as delicious as it looks with a sweet creamy interior. Photo by Daniel Lane / Pono Photo

Kauai’s restaurants offer more delicious food per square mile than most big cities.

Marta Lane, Kauai’s only full-time food writer and the host of Tasting Kauai “farm-to-fork” culinary tours that include a private four-course gourmet lunch and cooking demonstration at a five-star resort, says there are a lot of great places to eat on Kauai.

“We have a large selection of farms here and we have farmers markets every day so there are plenty of healthy food options,” Lane says. “When Kauai chefs work their magic with local products, you get some great meals!”

Lane’s passion is locally-grown food and establishments that favor using Kauai-grown products as much as possible. In her new e-book, Tasting Kauai: From Food Trucks to Fine Dining, a Guide to Eating Well on the Garden Island, she lists nearly 70 restaurants that meet her standards.

When Lane first moved to Kauai, she worked on an organic farm and learned of local farmers’ dedication to growing organically as much as possible. “They do it because they believe that protecting delicate ecosystems, the land, sea and people from chemical pesticides and fertilizers is the right thing to do,” she says.

The bonus for those of us who love to eat: “Restaurants that use organic and locally-sourced ingredients have the most flavorful food,” she says.

Lane recommends that while you’re on Kauai, be adventurous and try new things to eat.

“Kauai’s year-round growing season means farmers markets are always bursting with a colorful selection of sweet and juicy fruit including mango, pineapple, avocado, mountain apple and star fruit,” Lane says. “If you’re at the market and you see a strange looking fruit, be brave and try a sample. Farmers are happy to share. Enjoy tasting Kauai!”

Hanalei Pier Restoration Complete

pier new

Sunrises over the new Hanalei Pier

Nothing quite says summer on Kauai like a day on Hanalei Bay, a walkout to the end of the pier and a  jump  into the crystal clear water below.  The Hanalei Landing  has long been a significant  landmark of Kauai’s north shore.

Over the years deterioration, weather , neglect and vandalism left the canopy at the end of the pier a dangerous attraction.  Last year The Hanalei Rotary Club spearheaded Save the Pier, a project that raised over $170,000 toward the  restoration project.

This last Thursday an official blessing and celebration took place for the newly restored roof canopy at the end of Hanalei Pier.  Governor Abercrombie was on Kauai to take part in the ceremony and celebration along with Mayor Carvalho,  Rotary Club Members, project  contractors, the restoration team and many members of the community.  Mahalo to all who contributed to the  preservation of this very special part of our community and Kauai’s history.


Farewell old shed Mahalo for the memories.

What’s Happening on Kauai Summer 2013

Summer is just around the corner and that means lots of Kauai activities island wide.  What to do with our guest visiting Kauai? What to do on vacation on Kauai? Here is a list to get you started. For up to date events check out the  Kauai Calendar.

We will be adding more events as they come our way.


A beautiful annual show with hundreds of orchids on display and for sale. Friday afternoon and evening, Saturday all day at the Kukui Grove Shopping Center, Lihue. For more information call Lea Ingram (808) 823-6921.

 May 11 May Day By The Bay

This event, May 26, 2012, is presented by the Hanalei Hawaiian Civic Club and is sponsored by HTA and the County of Kaua’i. Our budget exceeds our grant amount so any extra support will allow us to continue to keep May Day by the Bay a viable vehicle to increase awareness of Hawaiian music and culture in our community.


The Kamanawa Foundation presents the 12th annual Kaua`i Polynesian Festival on Memorial Day weekend May 24-26, 2013 at Vidinha Stadium soccer field on Kapule Highway (Lihu`e) from noon through the evening each day. Join us for Tahitian, Maori, Samoan and Hawaiian entertainment, “Polynesian Experience” (hands-on arts and crafts activity), Polynesian Farmer’s Market, solo and group dance competitions, Hawaiian games, food booths, workshops, and moremuch more all day at the soccer field next to Vidinha Stadium on Kapule Highway (Lihue). Attendance fees vary. For more information call Kapu Kinimaka-Alquiza at (808) 335-6466.


banana-poka-2013-kokee-may-26-Poster-v4.2The Banana Poka Round Up, that plucky mountain event that celebrates Kauai’snatural environment, steps into its third decade of forest fun for the whole family in Kōkeʻe State Park’s lush Kanaloahuluhulu Meadow.
Sponsored by Hui o Laka since 1989, the 24th annual Round Up includes severalnew features, including being the finish line for the second annual Pedal to the Meadow bike race, a Kekaha-to-Kōkeʻe race that begins at 7:00 am Sunday morning

May 30th Annual Love Life Dance Festival

There will be 2 shows of the All-Styles Dance Showcase at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall on Thursday, May 30.  More than 80 dancers from 4 years old through adult will give performances at 5pm and 7:30pm.  Local creative vendors will have items for sale.

May 31 – June 1st Kauai Family Music Festival

Two fun days full of free entertainment , local Hawaiian music, poi pounding demonstrations, fire knife dancing and local fresh food.



canoe club runRun or walk one of the world’s most beautiful courses, and enjoy a delicious pancake breakfast at the finish! The 8 mile course begins at the end of the road in Ha’ena at Ke’e Beach, then traverses the scenic stretch of road, and one-lane bridges, along the breathtaking North Shore towards Hanalei town, ending at the historic Hanalei Pier.


The largest, oldest, and best food and beverage tasting event in Hawaii. Over 50 chefs from all over the Hawaiian islands converge to prepare signature dishes. For one admission ticket, you can enjoy food prepared by 50 of Hawaii’s best chefs, imbibe at any or all of 15 beverage stations (beer, fine wines, water, soft drinks, coffee and specialty coffee drinks and smoothies), listen to 14 musical groups perform throughout the afternoon and shop a large silent auction. All set within the beautiful park-like grounds of Smith’s Tropical Paradise. Proceeds support Rotary projects all over the world. For tickets or more information call (808) 246-0857.

A wine, beer, and pupu event plus the evening concert. Jazz acts, eat, drink and be merry. For more information call (808) 245-SING (7464).


July 4th  The Kauai Hospice 24th Annual Concert in the Sky  on July 4, 2013 at Vidinha Stadium, will again be the largest 1 day event on Kauai. We expect that over 6,000 people will attend and that of the ticketed attendees, 40% will be visitors from out of state.

We will provide both visitors and residents with a local style Independence Day celebration with Hawaiian entertainment by local musicians and halau dancers. This event will be a shining example of the kind of event that public/private partnerships can achieve. It will provide opportunities for interaction between residents and visitors with a unique experience as this is the largest aerial fireworks event on Kauai on the 4th of July. Visitors will get to celebrate our national holiday with the local cultural experiences of music and dance.

A four-day celebration of the art of song writing, offering seminar style instruction for small groups of songwriters, lectures, panel discussions, song writing contest, demo recordings, festival marketplace and two major concerts. America’s top performing songwriters will be there. Events to take place at the Hilton Kauai Beach Resort in Lihue. For more information call (808) 634-6237.

July 19-28 Koloa Plantation Days

Koloa Plantation Daysis a celbration every year that brings together the many ethnic groups that came to Hawaii to work on sugar plantations, and the Hawaiians who welcomed them.  Enjoy the festivities that are celebrated through music, dance, costumes, and food throughout this nine-day festival.

July 27th  Hanalei  Bay Swim Challenge

Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge

Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge

Join Namahana Canoe Club and participants of all ages and experience from around the world will take the plunge July 27, 2013, for the Seventh Annual Hanalei Bay Swim Challenge (formerly Namolokama Open Water Swim). Join them!!  Hanalei Bay in the summer – with its warm, clear, gentle waters and sandy bottom – provides the perfect venue for four races for different ages and abilities. Sign up by July 12th and the entry fee is only $10 for the Pier Keiki (children) Races and $30 for older competitors in the 1000 and 3000 meter races. To Register visit www.hanaleibayswimchallenge.com



This race begins at Ko’Olina Marina and Resort on Oahu and ends 78 miles later at the Nawiliwili Harbor,Kauai. Organized by the Nawiliwili Yacht Club on Kauai, the race begins at 7 AM on Friday, July 31 with the first boat arriving Nawiliwili that afternoon. The boats will be greeted when they arrive Nawiliwili on Friday. On Saturday, August 1 the Nawiliwili Yacht Club will host an awards party with pupus and dancing. For more information call Rear Commodore Terry Wells 808-828-1011.

August 3-4   HEIVA I KAUAI
The annual Heiva I Kauai Iorana Tahiti in Lihue is an International Tahitian dance competition, taking place over several days, with solo and group performances, plus traditional and contemporary drumming categories. The Heiva begins with a Blessing, Opening Ceremony and Tamaraa honoring visiting dignitaries and the participating competitors. The program includes the Mr./Miss Heiva I Kauai Pageant. This is a colorful introduction to the festivities that follow, which include dinner and a show. For more information call (808) 822-9447.


kauai event calendarThis fun day on Hanalei Bay is one of  sand castle/sculpting contest and music festival each year on Kauai. The idea is to encourage amazing sand sculpture, relaxation, exercise and enjoying a fun day the beach.


September 27-29   KAUAI POW WOW
Over 200 Native Americans from across America and many friends join in a celebration of cultural exchange with the people of Kauai, accompanied by visiting youth drum groups. Native American and Native Hawaiian-made crafts, clothing, food, musical instruments and hands-on activities. Native American dancing all day. Friday evening; all day Saturday and Sunday. Kapaa Beach Park. For more information call (808) 828-1294



Aloha Oe Coco Palms – mahalo…mahalo very much

coco-palms-postcardMade famous by Elvis and Blue Hawaii, most of us who grew up on Kauai remember Coco Palms as a place where we went  for brunch on Sundays after church with our family. We fished for Talapia with bamboo poles as our parents socialized with friends after lunch. We wandered through the maze of coconut groves to the tennis courts where we would spend hours being wildly entertained by the monkeys and peacocks, the residents of  Kauai’s only zoo.  The tennis courts, the little road that connected the Homesteads to the Wailua Houselots, the little church where Aunty was married, having lunch with the queen of hospitality, Grace Guslander and hearing her stories about running the resort and the history of the property.  These are the memories to highlight and share with Kauai keiki.  For anyone born after September 11, 1992, the only memories of  Coco Palms is that of a deteriorating piece of history.

Today the Kauai Planning Commission affirmed the order of Hearings Officer Richard Nakamura to revoke permits held by Coco Palms Ventures LLC’s to rebuild the property which was damaged in 1992 during Hurricane Iniki.photo

Mayor Bernard P. Carvalho, Jr. stated, “I am very pleased to hear of the Planning Commission’s action today to accept the Hearings Officer’s recommendation to revoke the permits currently held by Coco Palms LLC.   The property has languished for much too long, and with no alternate plan being proposed by the owners, it’s time to move on to new opportunities.”

coco-palms-2013The mayor added, “I plan to arrange for a community discussion very soon so that we can all envision what the future could hold for this site of such historic and cultural significance.  Let’s put our hopes and dreams on the table, and work toward a collective vision of Coco Palms that will do justice to this special place and will result in a community resource of which we can all be proud.”


Kauai Monk Seal Pups

M. Sullivan. NOAA Permit #10

Hawaiian Monk Seal and Pup

Springtime is Monk Seal pupping season. So far in March of 2013, at least four seals have been born in the Hawaiian Islands, although there still may be some unknown births in the remote areas of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. While no seals have been born on Kauai yet this year, a representative from the NOAA Monk Seal Research office expects that some of the female monk seals will pup here later this year. On average over the last few years, about four pups have been born on Kauai each year and Poipu Beach seems to be one their favorite locations for pupping.

While this event brings awe and wonder to visitors, it can also be a little dangerous for the pups if precautions are not taken. Luckily, Kauai has quite a devoted group of Monk Seal Watch Volunteers. You may see the yellow tape strung up around the Monk Seals to protect them. The volunteers are a wealth of knowledge, so don’t be afraid to ask them question. As long as you are standing on the outside of the tape, you can get some beautiful photos of a species that you will encounter nowhere else on earth.

If you get to see a Monk Seal pup, consider yourself lucky. The Hawaiian Monk Seal is one of the most endangered animal species on the planet. It is estimated that there are fewer than 1100 individuals in the population and while their population is increasing in the Main Hawaiian Islands, numbers are still declining in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. There are a number of conservation efforts underway to help curb this decline in population. To learn more about these efforts, you can visit the NOAA Monk Seal Research Program website.

You can help protect Hawaiian Monk Seals by learning more about them, following safe wildlife viewing guidelines and reporting any entangled marine life to: Marine
Mammal Stranding and Entanglement Hotline 1- 888-256-9840. Responsible wildlife viewing helps to ensure your safety and their protection and long-term
survival in the wild.

To ensure that your presence does not disturb Monk Seals you can practice the following responsible viewing guidelines:

Observe them from at least 50 yards. Since this is not always possible on the small beaches that we share with them, make sure to stay behind the yellow tape that has been placed around them for their safety.

Do not attempt to approach a seal or “play” with them. The seals may misinterpret your actions and cause serious injury. Cautiously swim back to shore and watch them from a safe vantage.

Do not attempt to push seals back in the water. Please keep your pet on a leash at all times when in the presence of monk seals. Dogs can share diseases with seals that could have devastating effects on the population.

Cautiously move away if you observe any of the following behaviors:

  • Rapid movement away from the disturbance and toward the water.
  • Sudden awakening from sleep on the beach.
  • Female attempting to shield a pup with her body or by her movements.
  • Vocalization or “growling” at the disturbance.

NOAA Monk Seal Research Page

Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge Final Phase of Restoration

Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge closed for the final phase of lighthouse restoration

The Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge will be closed for the third and final phase of the Kīlauea Lighthouse restoration. The historic 1913 lighthouse is a world renowned landmark and the crown jewel of Kīlauea. The third and final phase of the restoration efforts will include repairs to the second order Fresnel lens and the inclusion of additional safety measures.

For the safety of visitors and wildlife, the refuge will be closed during the restoration efforts, from March 31 through April 7, 2013. The refuge will re-open at 10:00 a.m on Monday, April 8, 2013.

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, along with the Kīlauea Point Natural History Association, is pleased to begin the final phase of the Kilauea Lighthouse Restoration, which began in 2011. “We are grateful to everyone who has been involved with the project thus far. This year’s Lighthouse Day will be a momentous event for Kaua‘i as we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the grand and historic Kīlauea Light Station,” said Shannon Smith, USFWS Project Leader, Kaua‘i National Wildlife Refuge Complex. “The community has been waiting patiently and we are proud to announce the final efforts to restore the Kīlauea Lighthouse as a beacon for generations to come.”

The Kīlauea Point National Wildlife Refuge will be hosting Lighthouse Day on May 4, 2013. It is one of many anniversary celebration events being held May 1-5, in collaboration with the Kīlauea Point Natural History Association and the community of Kīlauea. More details will be posted closer to event dates and can be found at www.kilaueapoint.org or www.facebook.com/kilauealighthouse.

Monika Mira brings the ocean to life for children

Monika Mira

Monika Mira loves to open children’s eyes to the world of creatures that live under the ocean’s surface through her colorfully illustrated children’s books. Her most recent release, Coral Reefs, features beautiful and fascinating photographs of denizens of the deep who thrive in and around coral reefs, such as polka-dotted eels, bright orange clownfish, green sea turtles and black-tipped reef sharks. Written for ages 10-13, with its clear scientific descriptions, the book is also great for adults who want to learn about life under the sea.

“As an aquatic biologist, it’s my passion and I also feel like it’s my duty teach children about the amazing animals I come in contact with in my work,” she says. “I also like to make children aware of how they can become good stewards, so in my books you will often see a list of things children can do to help the ocean’s animals and their environment, such as etiquette when they are around a coral reef.” Mira also challenges children to come up with some of their own solutions for conservation and protection of our natural resources.

Mira’s The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book was her first book. Originally designed for adults, similar to the Anatomy Coloring Book used to teach adults about the human body for massage and other medical applications, The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book became a hit with children, too, and is now used in classrooms across the country from elementary schools to colleges.

Her next book, the charming Who Lives in the Sea? Ocean Animals of Hawaii, was designed for beginning readers and is written with repetitive rhyming text to encourage early reading skills and to introduce children to sea creatures like the Humpback whale, dolphin, sea turtle, jellyfish, reef fish and starfish. Mira also includes important species like the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal.

An artist as well as a scientist, Mira creates all her own illustrations for her books, including the captivating, brightly-colored collages made from paper she cut out with scissors then digitally scanned for Who Lives in the Sea?

Mira has worked on dozens of projects to help conserve Hawaii’s natural resources, from teaching marine science, to conducting biological stream surveys for the Department of Health. Now, she writes books to spread the message about conservation.

“My goal with all my books is to foster an appreciation for ocean animals in children at a young age and to perpetuate an attitude of caring for the animals of the sea.”

All of Mira’s books are available on Amazon. Who Lives in the Sea? and The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book can also be found in specialty shops around Kauai. For more information, visit https://kauai.com/lucidpublishingMonika Mira bookcover collage


Kanuikapono School Celebrates Learning

When Kanuikapono Charter School first opened on Kauai 11 years ago, classrooms where wherever director Ipo Torio-Kauhane could arrange for them, under tents with students sitting on lauhala mats or in the gymnasium a Kapaa church.

So it was an especially joyful occasion yesterday when the school’s teachers, 150 students and their parents held a blessing for three like-new portable classrooms at Kanuikapono’s now-permanent Anahola campus.

The classrooms were donated by Kamehameha Schools, who had used the buildings for two years while their Kapalama campus on Oahu was being remodeled. “When our construction was done, the portables were practically new. Kamehameha Schools funds 17 charter schools in Hawaii, so donating the portables was a no-brainer,” says Liz Ahana, integrated strategies manager for Kamehameha Schools. All 17 schools applied for the portables and Kanuikapono and Kawaikini Charter School in Lihue were the two Kauai schools chosen to receive them.

Young Brothers underwrote most of the cost of shipping the classrooms from Oahu to Kauai. “When we saw the barge of classrooms leaving from Honolulu, that was a meaningful moment for us,” says Roy Catalani, vice president of strategic planning and governmental affairs for Young Brothers. “We are glad to assist Kanuikapono and Kawaikini charter schools.”Kanuikapono Charter School

Inspiring Children

The blessing celebrated more than a new building. It marked the success of a school that blends traditional academics with hands-on learning, inspiring children from kindergarten through 12th grade and making things taught in school relevant in their lives.

“I like the fact that they teach core values like kuleana (responsibility), ohana (family) and respect along with reading, writing and arithmetic,” says parent Aaron Leikam, whose son, Tanner, 6, attends Kanuikapono. “They do a lot of projects involving agriculture, aquaculture and our environment and they are really progressive in academics.”

Leikam says children enjoy the small classroom sizes, typically 18 students in each grade from kindergarten through fifth grade, and nine students in each high school grade. “They all get so much personal attention.”

Jessica Gutierrez is impressed with the types of things her son learns at Kanuikapono both in class and on field trips. “One night I asked him what he had learned in school that day and he said, ‘We learned how to measure the volume of a river.’ I was amazed!”

Raye Street’s daughter Lilia, 8, began at Kanuikapono when she was in kindergarten. “Lilia doesn’t want to miss school. She’s stoked to be at school everyday,” he says. “I can’t wait for my son, Jackson, to come here. He’ll be old enough to start in the fall.” A lovely benefit of a school steeped in Hawaiian culture: “Lilia’s hula is amazing.”image

As school director, Ipo Torio-Kauhane, gazes upon her students, a sea of children of all ethnic groups, from dark-eyed children with brown hair to many blond hair, blue-eyed little ones, all getting along and learning together, she sees her dream come alive.

“When I look out here, I don’t see a school. I see a nation of Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians who value learning.”


Read more about Kauai life in “Kauai Stories: Life on the Garden Island told by Kauai’s People,” a joy-filled book available at more than 20 locations on Kauai and also on Amazon.com. Visit www.kauaistories.net for more information.

Kauai’s WWII Veterans Honored

Jiro Yukimura, 92, left; and Turk Tokita, 92, chat with audience members after their presentation at the Kauai Museum and autograph copies of "Kauai Stories" in which their stories about their World War II are included.

Jiro Yukimura, 92, left; and Turk Tokita, 92, chat with audience members after their presentation at the Kauai Museum.

Kauai is home to many veterans who have served our country in United States military actions. Most notable are members of the famed 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team, comprised almost exclusively of young Japanese Americans born in Hawaii who fought in Europe in World War II, and Kauai-born Japanese American men who served in the Military Intelligence Service (MIS), translating captured Japanese documents for the U.S. government during the war. These Kauai men fought for their country, the United States, against Japan, the country of their parents’ birth.

I had the honor of moderating a talk given this week by two of these men, both now 92 years young, bright-eyed, sharp-witted and as sweet of heart as any Kauai people I know. They recalled their wartime experiences with gravity, grace and honor and a touch of humor to a standing-room-only crowd at the Kauai Museum, where audience members treated them with the reverence and the warmth for which Kauai people are known.

Jiro Yukimura told of joining the U.S. Army after Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japan in 1941 and being assigned to guard places on Oahu with a 1903 Springfield rifle.

“After about two months we all got assembled at a school, and they said, ‘All you Japanese guys, you’re out.’ They said they cannot trust those of us of Japanese ancestry. We all cried. They classified us as 4C: Enemy Alien. We were considered enemy alien? My God, that was a big blow. So we all went home. What else could we do?”

Not willing to give up in their efforts to help their country, Yukimura and his friends joined the “Varsity Victory Volunteers,” digging ditches, quarrying rocks and surfacing roads.

One year later, the U.S. Army realized it needed more manpower and began reaching out to Japanese Americans to serve, hoping for 1,500 men from Hawaii. More than 10,000 Japanese American men volunteered.

“We were so anxious to get in. We thought of ourselves as Americans,” Yukimura said.

After training, when the opportunity came to join the Military Intelligence Service, Yukimura applied, passed the Japanese language tests, and served in Australia and the Philippines, among other places. By the end of the war, the MIS was credited with translating 20 million pages of Japanese documents.

Yukimura was eventually made an officer and assigned to the Army’s Public Relations office where, as fortune would have it, he was given front row seats aboard the USS Missouri to watch Japan’s ceremonial surrender in 1945 to end the war.

Turk Tokita fought overseas in France and Italy, where he was wounded twice, earning both of his Purple Hearts. During his training in the southern United States and during his service abroad, he witnessed many inequities among human beings: impoverished Caucasians being treated poorly; African Americans being denied seats on buses when the “Blacks Only” seats were filled, even though there were other empty seats aboard; and American-born Japanese people deemed untrustworthy solely because of their ethnicity, incarcerated in internment camps across the country.

“They were supposed to be Americans, and they were being treated like they were slaves or something. They didn’t have the same opportunities,” Tokita said.

A shy young man, Tokita took it all in, but it wasn’t until he got home to Kauai after the war that he knew he could make a difference. He became Kauai campaign manager for John A. Burns, who became Hawaii’s delegate to Congress and helped Hawaii become a state, joining the United States in 1959. Burns became Hawaii’s second governor and Tokita was his Kauai campaign manager for all of his terms.

Tokita continued his career in politics, serving as Kauai campaign manager for three more Hawaii governors.

“Before the war, I was an introvert. If you knew me before the war, you’d think, ‘What a wimp he was.’ Tokita says. “Because of politics, I became an extrovert. I helped with statehood and became involved in all kinds of things for a better life for everybody.”

Read more about these two Kauai World War II veterans and two of their colleagues in “Kauai Stories: Life on the Garden Island told by Kauai’s People,” a joy-filled book about life on Kauai available at more than 20 locations on Kauai and also on Amazon.com. Visit www.kauaistories.net for more information.

Kauai Event Calendar and Things To Do

Kauai.com has recently re-launched our new and exciting Kauai Event Calendar. What is there to do on Kauai? What’s Happening on Kauai? Well now there is one place you can find it all. Find your event, post a new event, share it, Facebook it, Tweet it, Google+, email it to a friend or even post it to your iCalendar. You can also add a RSS feed of exactly what events you are interested in. Now you can know exactly what is happening on Kauai.

Post your event fliers, add a venue, get directions, add an image or even a video. The Kauai.com Event Calendar will allow you to sort by date, side of the island and what type of events you are interested in. Do you have an upcoming Kauai Event that you want to share? You can post or find an event in the following categories:

If you live on Kauai or are just visiting the Garden Island you will find this a great resource for finding things to do on Kauai. Now all we have to do is let people know about our calendar.  Do you have an upcoming Kauai Event? Please Share!  Any questions please feel free to contact us.