The artwork in Hale KupuKupu was chosen specifically because each piece features something significant about Hawaii and its culture. The pictures in the living room, for example, are prints of illustrations done by artist John Kelly for menu covers in the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu in the 1920s. Kelly was originally from Oakland, California. He trained in San Francisco and worked as an illustrator for the San Francisco Examiner before heading to Hawaii with his wife in 1923. He originally planned to work for an advertising agency there for a few years before returning to the mainland. He fell in love with the islands and never left. His work focused primarily on figures of native Hawaiians. He authored and illustrated two books, “Etchings and Drawings of Hawaiians” in 1943, and “The Hula as Seen in Hawaii” in 1955.
Hale KupuKupu still has openings available for the first part of the 2018 Merrie Monach Festival. The hale is currently reserved only from April 5 to 7, the actual days of the hula competition and the paid events. If you are planning to attend this important Hula Festival you must plan far in advance for tickets. Tickets can only be reserved by filling out a request form available from the festival website, and making your request by mail. The best way to get tickets if you live on the mainland is to have your request form filled out in advance, and mail the request immediately on December 1. We recommend sending your request by express mail if you want any chance of getting tickets. The festival will not accept any request postmarked prior to December 1. Reservations fill up quickly for that week of April at hotels, B&Bs and vacation rentals so make arrangements early. We suggest you book now if you want space at Hale KupuKupu for the early part of the festival.
For festival information: http://www.merriemonarch.com/
While on the Big Island visitors have the unique opportunity to visit the only farm growing commercial vanilla beans in the United States. Located on the Hamakua Coast the Hawaiian Vanilla Company was started by Jim Reddekopp and his family in 1998. Since then their business has been featured on the Food Network and the Travel and Discovery channels. They offer daily luncheon and farm-only tours daily. The tours sell out quickly and reservations need to be made in advance. To find out more, use one of the links below.
While it is the best know, Kona is not the only region on the Big Island, or the Hawaiian Islands in general, that grows coffee commercially. Kona is the oldest growing region on the Big Island. Coffee plants were brought there in 1828 by the missionary Samuel Ruggles. In 1982, Herman Weidemann introduced the Typica variety of coffee plant from Guatemala. This plant performed so much better than the plants already introduced, and is now known as Kona Typica on the island. In addition to Kona, there are five other coffee growing regions on the Big Island alone. Each region has unique climate and soil characteristics that affect the final coffee. The Ka’u coffee region, located at the southern part of the Big Island, is most like the Central American coffees in flavor and characteristics. It has been slowly growing in popularity with locals and you can often find locals extolling its virtues over Kona coffee. Puna district has started to produce some excellent coffees as well. Coffee plants in that region are often grown directly in lava, or slightly above the lava flows creating a distinctly acidic and rich dimension to the coffee.
At Hale KupuKupu, we try to feature products that are local. Because of that, we feature coffee from the Hilo Coffee Mill, located about halfway between Hilo and Volcano. Hilo Coffee Mill was founded specifically to help local small coffee growers bring their products to market. They offer tours that give visitors a great deal of information on coffee, Hawaiian Coffee and the local coffee from the regions closest to Volcano..
Visitors to Hawaii, particularly those from the mainland United States, are often confronted by unique Hawaiian customs that they are embarrassed to ask locals about—they don’t want to seem ignorant or admit that the custom is a bit foreign to them. Hawaii Magazine did a great story answering what the editors felt were the 10 most common questions about Hawaii that visitors were uncomfortable asking about and providing the answers. Take some time to read it and you will find all about slippahs, why everything is so expensive along with other important information.
The Volcano Village Artists Hui is a group of working artists in Volcano, Hawaii. All of the Hui artists have works that have been included in major collections, or have won awards in their chosen media. Their work is diverse, but shares an awareness of the unique experience of living on the Big Island. Every November over the Thanksgiving weekend, the artists open their studios for a public event to show their latest works. The studio event runs November 24, 25 and from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. each day. For information on the artists and the studio locations, visit http://volcanovillageartistshui.com/studio_tour.html
From November 3 to 13 you can participate in the annual Kona Coffee Festival, the oldest food festival in Hawaii. The festival offers tastings, and hands-on cultural events help tell the story of Kona’s rich coffee history. You can see the full list of events at http://konacoffeefest.com/
Volcano Village is well known on the Big Island as an enclave of artists, many of them internally recognized. One of the local organizations that helps to foster the arts, and in particular Hawaiian culture and art, in the Volcano Arts Center. The centers written goal is to “… promote, develop, and perpetuate the artistic and cultural heritage of Hawai’i’s people and environment through the arts and education. The center has two locations; the first is an art gallery located within the former Volcano House Hotel built in 1877. The gallery is operated under a cooperative agreement with the National Park Service and is open every day except Christmas. The second location is an educational facility in Volcano Village on the edge of the Niaulani Forest Reserve, a location with old-growth trees including Koa and Ohia.
The Center offers a variety of classes and workshops every day of the week, and sponsors monthly Hula performances in the national park at the kahua hula (platform) near the Volcano Arts Center gallery in the Hawai`i Volcanoes National Park. They also offer rainforest tours of Niaulani every Monday morning from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m.
Complete listings of all of the center’s offerings can be found at http://volcanoartcenter.org/
Anyone who has visited a sushi bar is aware of the green paste that is the closest most of us will ever get to the Japanese specialty of wasabi. Made up of a mixture of horseradish, mustard and green food coloring, the faux wasabi lacks many of the unique characteristics that make wasabi, well, wasabi. The difficult to grow rizome has traditionally been grown along mountain streams in Japan. Because of the rarity, it is not only expensive, but the demand has always far outstripped the supply. If you are visiting some of the high-end sushi restaurants in Hawaii, you may have the opportunity to sample real wasabi without taking a trip to Japan. This is due to the work of Volcano resident and wasabi farmer Lance Yamashiro. The two articles linked below outline how the unique climate of Volcano has contributed to the growing of wasabi on the Big Island.
When the Portuguese sugar workers arrived in Hawaii during the 19th century, they introduced sweetbread to the islands. One of the best versions of this Hawaiian specialty can be found in the town of Punalu’u near the southern tip of the Big Island. Based on an old family recipe, the sweetbread at Punalu’u Bakeshop has been a hit with islanders and visitors alike since the bakery first opened. They have a visitor center and giftshop and are an excellent place to have lunch on a trip to South Point or to the Green Sands Beach. http://www.bakeshophawaii.com/