One Ocean, One People, One Sky

May 3, 2007

- One Ocean, One People -
In 2001, Professor Keiichi Kodaira donated two canoes to the University of Hawai'i at Hilo Canoe Club as he was preparing to leave the Director General position of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, the parent organization of Subaru Telescope. As Kodaira, his spouse, and friends paddled the two canoes Mele O Ke Kai (Song of the Ocean) and Makana Aloha (Gift of Aloha) across Hilo Bay, they were eagerly anticipating the construction of a new double hulled canoe. The long awaited Hokualaka'i (Guiding Star), a deep ocean voyaging canoe, is of traditional design, but modern materials. The molds from which Holualaka'i were built are still used to transmit the knowledge of canoe building and are spawning a new generation of canoes .

Years later, in 2007, in the early morning of April 23, news from Okinawa arrived in Hilo that the Hawai'ian voyaging canoe Hokule'a, the very first of its kind, had arrived at Itoman Harbor after eleven days at sea since departing Colonia, Yap. It was an hour past midnight, yet some 150 people greeted Navigator Nainoa Thompson and his crew with big cheers.

Navigator Chad Kalepa Baybayan and his crew from the Big Island of Hawai'i are now taking Hokule'a from Okinawa to Fukuoka City with several stops along Kyushu Island. Kalepa has been the project director for Hokualaka'i from its construction phase, and has been training people in Hilo area in the ways of Polynesian voyaging.

"One Ocean, One People 2007 / Voyage to Micronesia and Japan / A Celebration of Pacific Voyaging, Cultures, and Islands" is the theme of the voyage organized by the Polynesian Voyaging Society, mother institute of Hokule'a and its accompanying boat Kama Hele. The first half of the voyage was a tribute to Mau Piailug, the master navigator who taught Hawaiian navigators their once lost art of wayfinding. His apprentices are now leaders in their own communities teaching new generations how to find their own ways. Hokule'a and Kama Hele led a traditional canoe built on the Big Island of Hawai' i to the island of Satawal, Yap, as a gift to Mau. The name of the canoe Alingano Maisu refers to "breadfruit after the wind". The second half of the voyage honors cultural ties between Japan and Hawai'i, and has the theme "Ku Holo La Komohana (Sail On to the Western Sun)"


- One Ocean, One Sky -
In April 2007, a new planetarium show "One Ocean, One Sky" opened at the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center. The program illustrates traditional wayfinding during a deep sea voyage. Incorporated are video clips showing Hokule'a and its past voyages, folk tales about the star cluster Pleiades (Subaru in Japanese, Murikabushi in parts of Okinawa, and Makali'i in Hawaii), and the Subaru Telescope.

Voyaging canoes and astronomical telescopes have several things in common: human curiosity and the quest for knowledge as a driving force, stars as guides, and a huge undertaking to build a vehicle of exploration whether canoe or telescope, made possible only with the collaboration of many people. Interestingly, the two highlighted folk tales about the Pleiades both feature a tiny character taking on huge responsibility. A small one can do big good for the community; this seems to be a message valued by many cultures.

Two Japanese telescopes are featured in "One Ocean, One Sky", both named after the Pleiades star cluster. The Subaru Telescope is located on Maunakea, on the Big Island of Hawai'i. The Murikabushi telescope, a 1-meter telescope jointly operated by the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and its local community on Ishigaki Island, in southern Okinawa. The Murikabushi telescope is used both for research and for public outreach. On clear nights, the telescope enclosure fills with excited exclamations as people gaze thought the telescope.

The Southern Cross, which can be seen from both Hawai'i and Ishigaki, is also featured in the program. By the time one reaches the latitude of Kyushu, the bottom star of this constellation is at the horizon. As Hokule'a sails north along the coast of Japan via Hiroshima to Yokohama, other constellations will guide its course. The ocean temperature and the swell changes too, from Kuroshio, the Japan Current, to Oyashio, the Okhotsk Current. Thus traveled King David Kalakaua in 1881 to Yokohama when he initiated official connections between Hawai'i and Japan.

Hawaiian canoes are no strangers to the staff of Subaru Telescope. Each of Subaru Telescope's past directors, Professors Norio Kaifu, Hiroyasu Ando, and Hiroshi Karoji, have connections to canoes. Names that carry Hoku, meaning star, intrigue most astronomers. To show appreciation for the Big Island community's support of the Subaru Project, the Japan Astronomy Promotion Foundation, which has close ties with NAOJ, has made donations to University of Hawai'i at Hilo every year since 2001. Earlier donations went to the College of Hawaiian Studies, University of Hawai'i at Hilo, and was used as seed money for a program in traditional wayfinding and to obtain equipment for Hokualaka'i and a smaller training vessel Kea'eloa (The Eastern Trade Wind). Recent donations went to the 'Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai'i for exhibits and a planetarium show for youth.

"The ancient Japanese word 'subaru' in its verb form means to get together or to put together. I hope the presence of this institute, and the contribution of Subaru Telescope staff to the local community will carry this spirit of collaboration into Hilo as well as into the wider community," says the current Director, Masa Hayashi.

This photo shows the sea-worthy crew members representing the Big Island of Hawai'i shortly before leaving for Okinawa to cover the Okinawa-Kyushu leg of Hokule'a's journey. Many are from Hokuala'kai. (From left to right: Kini Burke, AhLoy Yung, AhLun Yung, Kaimana Barcarse, Kalepa Baybayan, Galen Macanas, Ka'iu Kimura, and Maka'ala Rawlins.)

Note: The proper expression of the Hawai'ian language requires special stress marks such as the 'Okina (glottal stop) or Kahako (macron, the last "o" comes with Kahako mark itself, sort of a bar above the letter). This text improperly omits the Kahako. For example the word hoku, the star, should come with macron marks on top of both "o" and "u". Please refer to Hokualaka'i's web page, Polynesian Voyaging Society page, and other relevant pages for proper expression.




Subaru Telescope, part of the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, operates the Subaru Telescope on Maunakea.

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