My husband told me that we were invited to a party hosted on a Japanese Naval training ship. Hilo doesn’t get warship visits very often so I was pretty excited to get to board the ship. In fact, I heard that the last time a Japanese warship came to Hilo was over 40 years ago. So, my prior experience in warship deck parties is sorely lacking.
As we walked toward the naval ship named Kashima in a light Hilo rain, we were met with the sight you see above. The deck of the ship was adorned with lights. This, I did not expect. I expected military formality and a bit more seriousness. My expectations were all wrong! The Japanese hosted a spectacular and unforgettable party that many Hiloans had the honor and privilege to attend.
My mother grew up in a town named Kashima in Japan. Even though this ship wasn’t named after her town, I did feel a sense of connection to the ship and its visit. I shared this bit of trivia as I mingled and spoke in my broken Japanese and when one of my new friends found out, he gifted me with his personal Kashima fan. Such a precious and meaningful omiyage. On to the food.
There was an amazing array of food. My friend, Colin Nakagawa of Seaside Restaurant, awaits his made-to-order sushi.
The buffet line seemed endless! There was a yakitori station and a tempura station that I neglected to get photos of but definitely did not neglect visiting. There was also a curry station (カレー) that I loved! Strong Japanese curry flavor that had tender wagyu and was slightly sweetened with apples, mango, and peaches. Yummy!!!
My pal Kallen Miyataki shows his happiness and amazement at the seafood offerings at this station.
Somehow, I was allowed to put on a happi coat and pose at one of my favorite stations–the sake station! Notice my strong stance. If you are one who is familiar with seagoing vessels, you will know that ships move with the ocean and despite the large size of this ship, we definitely felt the ship moving throughout the evening.
The highlight of the evening was not the food (and sake) despite the space I devoted to it in this post. The highlight was meeting our hosts, learning a bit about their lives, and sharing smiles and laughter with them. It was wonderful to see Hiloans come out in force to share aloha. This party on a Japanese naval ship is not an experience I imagine I shall have again soon. Living Hilo Style!