Heading to Sendai

The day has finally arrived, and ManoaDNA is off on another adventure in Japan.  This trip though, has a little different feel to it as we depart.

Usually, as we prepare for our Golden Week tour with Hawai’i Tourism Japan, we know what to expect.  We get our song list ready, we get our attire all squared away, and look forward to promoting Hawai’i and seeing our family and friends.  With the recent tragedy and ongoing struggles in Japan, our preparations were completely different.  The immediate question we all asked was “Will we even get a chance to go?” 

Eventually, the final decision came down to us, and it came with a wrinkle: a trip to visit Sendai and perform. 

First I heard from Alex, who regretfully was forced to decline.  He had worked so hard this semeseter and needed to stay back to finish his finals and graduate from school.

Next, I heard from Dad.  He volunteered right away and would go with the HTJ convoy, a “no brainer” for him.

Finally, it was up to me. I knew in my heart I wanted to go, but I was scared.  Scared of radiation, scared of earthquakes, but especially scared of the unknown.

As I was personally wrestling with the decision, I sought advice from anyone and everyone.  Day after day, I heard updates from the news, our friends, and HTJ.  I even sought council in fellow musicians who were also hearing and making decisions on their schedules.  No matter how many opinions I got, I still had no answer.  It was very frustrating.

The night before I had to give my decision, I sat down and began writing my thoughts out on paper.  I do this when I get stuck or frustrated as it helps me organize my brain.  As I was jotting down ideas, I began to realized why I was getting so frustrated.  I didn’t want to see Japan in a weak state.  Let me try to explain by comparing it to the time I saw Mike Tyson get knocked down by Buster Douglas.

When Mike Tyson began his professional career, everyone who entered the ring was slaughtered by Tyson’s vicious power and speed.  As a kid, I naturally became a huge Mike Tyson fan and began admiring him as an invincible idol.  I bought his video game with matching Nintendo Power Glove (nerd alert!), watched his fights, and even debated getting his signature haircut (a #2 on top with a bald fade on the sides, again nerd alert!).  The day he suffered his first defeat to Buster Douglas, he suddenly became vulnerable.  From then on, I didn’t idolize Tyson as much because I wanted to keep his “Iron Mike” image in my head, not the ear-biting one he eventually became.

Japan is like Mike Tyson.  I’m scared to see the devestation first hand, because I don’t want to see my idol when their down.  After several trips in and around Japan, I have come to understand that these are people who have respect for others, and work hard to make sure they represent themselves and their families to the highest degree.  In a lot of ways, I wish my daily life was more like their daily life and that people here treated eachother the same way they do in Japan.  I was frustrated with myself because I know it will be hard to see them weak and fragile, especially because I was used to them being strong. 

So what made me decide to go?  Unlike an idol like Mike Tyson, I know that Japan will rebound and be strong once again.  They will rebuild their cities, get people back to work, and back to their normal lives.  Instead of viewing the aftermath as a negative thing, I am now excited to witness the beginning of the rebuild.  I want to be able to say, thirty years from now, I was there to witness the beginning. 

More importantly, we will get to sing.  We will be visiting several evacuation camps, Dad and I will be singing Hawaiian music, and Aureana Tseu will dance.  We will get to share, even if only for a day, our talents and give people a reason to smile.  It is a great responsibility, and I am very thankful for the opportunity.

Keep checking into Dad’s blog and my blog, as we will be posting when we can.  Like I mentioned last week, I will be taking my video camera up (along with my still camera) and will try to document as much as I can.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me on twitter.



  1. When I heard of that you are going to visit to the shelter, I was so worried about you guys. I’m still worried about you but thank you for coming to Japan and also stricken area in such a situation. I’m deeply grateful to you for your thoughtfulness and aloha spirit. I’m sure your music and spirit will heal the people and make them smile. I’m looking forward to seeing you guys in Japan. ありがとう! Mahalo! and Thank you again!!

  2. Mahalo Nick for your kindness. Have a safe trip to Japan. I will see you in Osaka. Take care…

  3. I am so proud of you and your approach to this challenge. Your courage, strength and music will bring a lot of HOPE and JOY to all those that are struggling. Because you are there, YOU MADE A DIFFERENCE! The people of Japan will be forever grateful to you.

  4. to you, your dad, and aureana – wow the sheltered people in sendai as we know that the aloha spirit can go so far to make them forget what they are up against just by listening to your music and dance. many of us would like to join you too and make a difference for these people.

    please keep in touch.