In ways large and small, residents and folks coming here for Hawaii Vacations are reaching across the ocean to support recovery efforts in Japan. The two islands share many ties and news of the tsunami’s devastation has spurred a variety of efforts to send help.

A major benefit last weekend included a concert that featured Willie Nelson and major Hawaii performers such as Jack Johnson, Henry Kapono and Jake Shimabukuro. “Kokua for Japan” was carried on radio, television and the internet in both Hawaii and Japan. (“Kokua” means “help” in Hawaiian.) According to organizers, it raised over 1.6 million dollars. This weekend, Honolulu’s Chinatown hosts a “ {re}BUILD JAPAN” event featuring silent auctions, live music and deejay sets. Proceeds will go to the Aloha for Japan effort.

In addition to special events, it seems that every regular activity is dedicating some portion to Japan. One example is Iolani Palace, as Erika Lehman tells us: “For the entire month of April, Iolani Palace is donating one dollar from each guided tour and audio tour sold to the U.S.–Japan Council Earthquake Relief Fund, a non-governmental collection of Japanese organizations working directly with disaster areas. 100% of all donations will go directly to relief projects in Japan; to date, the U.S.–Japan Council has raised over $1.5 million dollars.

“Iolani Palace’s longstanding connection to Japan began in 1867 when the Treaty of Friendship was signed, opening up trade routes between Hawaii and Japan. Several years later, King Kalakaua made Japan his first stop in his 1881 trip around the world, and was received as an official state guest of Emperor Meiji. Many artifacts within the Palace reflect both the strength of this friendship and the influence Japanese culture had on the Kalakaua dynasty. In 2010, The Friends of Iolani Palace honored this relationship in celebrating Kanyaku Imin, the 125th anniversary of the 1885 Japanese immigration to Hawaii.”

The list of ways to help is interesting in both its size and persity. It includes famous chefs, local restaurants, merchants at Ala Moana Center, fashion designers, dance performers, hotels, grocery stores, artists, salons and spas, car show and even exercise classes. Two popular tee shirts feature the “Kokua for Japan” and “Aloha for Japan” themes — a continuing hope that financial support and love from Hawaii can help those in Japan.

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