Steel Trappings

Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival

Steel Guitar Festival to Honor Tadashi Arakawa

April 26, 2022 • Addison ChingFestivals and Conventions

The first Japan-Hawaiian Steel Guitar Festival will be presented on July 15, 2022. The festival will be included in the weeklong Waikīkī Steel Guitar Week occurring July 11-16 at the Royal Hawaiian Center's Royal Grove stage in Waikīkī.

The festival will be dedicated to the honor and memory of Tadashi Arakawa, a Japanese steel guitar player and sensei from Yokohama, Japan, who passed away earlier this year. Tadashi was one of a group of planners from Japan that collaborated with HIMELE to produce the festival.

In Facebook posts prior to the pandemic, Tadashi was very much looking forward to the festival, even posting that he planned to see people in Hawai‘i during the festival. However, due to the Coronavirus pandemic the festival was paused along with all other in-person steel guitar festivals in Hawai‘i. Tadashi was never able to see the efforts of his planning come to fruition.

The Friday evening concert will begin at 4 P.M. and feature Japanese steel guitar players including Kiyoshi "Lion" Kobayashi, one of Japan's steel guitar legends. A group he created, the Lion's Lady Steel Guitar Ensemble, will also perform on the Royal Grove stage. The group comprises Sakae Machida, Yoko Tanaka, Masako Wakamatsu, and Akiko Watanabe, four female steel guitarists trained by Lion.

Also performing on the main stage will be Noriko and Shuji Tomita from Tokyo, Japan. Additional Japanese steel guitarists will be added to the program as their participation is confirmed.

The Friday program will be livestreamed on the Hawaiian Steel Guitar Showcase's Facebook page and YouTube channel as a part of the Showcase's Festival series.

The Japan-Hawaiian steel guitar festival is underwritten by the Royal Hawaiian Center, with additional funding for the festival and livestream broadcast provided by Hawai‘i Tourism Authority through the Kūkulu Ola Program, administered by the Hawai‘i Community Foundation. The festival and livestream broadcast are also supported in part by the Hawai‘i State Foundation on Culture and the Arts (SFCA), through appropriations from the Legislature of the State of Hawai‘i or grants from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).


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