Japan · Uncategorized

Hula, Home, Heart (Japan Reflections)


I was asked by Nobue if I could teach her aunt the basic hula steps.  She wanted to join the women’s hula group, but felt her skills were not as good as the others.  I was happy to teach her, and we went over to her house every Tuesday.

I began teaching her the basic steps, but about two weeks in, I began to have the feeling the Aunt wanted something more than just learning the basics.  After we went through the basic steps, I began to ask more questions every week about what the Aunt wanted to learn.  Slowly, I began to get a clearer picture of what she was looking for.

She had mentioned trying to practice some of the dances before and getting discouraged. When I heard this, I began to inquire more about the dances that she was struggling with.  That is when one day, we came in to see a her playing a video of a woman dancing hula.   I then realized that she really wanted to learn enough hula to master this dance.

The dance was simple enough that I was able to figure the footwork, which was the hardest to understand from the video.  We began to turn more of our attention to mastering the dance.  We worked for many weeks on it.

Once every month, the ladies hula group holds a hula cafe in Miyagi Prefecture (about 2 hours away).  I was asked to join and dance hula at the cafe.  Nobue’s aunt was also there, and at the end of the cafe, the women danced to the song we had been working on for all those weeks.

Nobue’s aunt was so happy at the end of the dance.  She said she was able to dance confidently because of my help.  At my farewell party, she gave me a beautiful red hula dress, which I wore the next Sunday for my final hula performance for the church.

I am so thankful for the time I spent at the Aunt’s house.  She would invite me for dinner at her house after we danced, and I got to spend a relaxing evening with her and her family.  Three times, we went out to eat some of their favorite foods they wanted to let me try.

At the end of July, they have a summer fireworks festival, but they were sad to hear I would leave before then.  So the Aunt bought fireworks, dressed us up in Yukata, and we played fireworks one of the last evenings I came over.  I was so blessed by them as much as I was helping them learn hula.



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