Hawaii's island culture blends traditions from the Polynesian islands and Asian cultures. The contributions from Japan--the second largest ethnic group on the islands--are celebrated in the annual Cherry Blossom Festival, this year running from January 8 through March 18. The festival selects a Queen and Court, who make appearances at events around the island along with cultural entertainment. The golf tournament on Feb 4, reception with contestants on February 18, and Festival Ball on March 18 are highlights.
For the Queen contestants, the Cherry Blossom Festival provides an opportunity to learn more about their Japanese heritage through classes in the tea ceremony and other Japanese traditions. Visitors to Waikiki can experience Japanese culture throughout the year at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii. The center's historical gallery presents the history of Japanese Americans throughout the state's development. Events let visitors get hands-on with Japanese traditions; February's events feature traditional Japanese enameling workshops.
Explore the Japanese Buddhist tradition at Byodo-In Temple. Built nearly 50 years ago in honor of the first Japanese immigrants, the temple's traditional Japanese architecture and peaceful setting make visiting a relaxing, serene respite.
One of the most enjoyable ways to experience Japanese culture in Waikiki is to dine on Japanese food. You'll find a wide variety of Japanese and Asian-fusion restaurants in Waikiki, including Kaiwa Waikiki on the Waikiki Beachwalk just 300 steps from Holiday Inn Waikiki Beachcomber. Staying at our Waikiki Beach hotel puts you in easy reach of everything Japanese on Oahu.