The beautiful stretch of pristine white sand, palm trees and waterfront resorts make Japan's Shirarahama Beach reflective of Honolulu's Waikiki Beach. It comes as no surprise that the two beaches, popular destinations for residents and visitors alike, have shared a special "sister" relationship since 2000 – one of 24 sister state and city relationships between the two archipelagos.
Beyond their visual beauty, Hawai‘i and Japan share a similar philosophy when caring for each other and the environment. In Hawai‘i, we "mālama" (take care of) one another, our land and our natural resources. It's more than an action; it's a mindset. In Japan, the concept of Omoiyari, or the art of compassion, is a shared understanding of consideration in Japanese society.
It is with these principles in mind that the Shirarahama Waikiki Beach Friendship Committee invited our Hawaiian Airlines Japan-based, Team kōkua employee volunteers to join a beach cleanup project at Shirarahama Beach in Wakayama Prefecture in the Kansai region. More than 150 participants, including city officials, tourism agencies and local hotels like Nanki Shirahama Marriott, community members, as well as employees from our Japan sales team and their families, donned purple Team Kokua T-shirts and spent the afternoon picking up trash along the half-mile coast.
Hawaiian’s Japan Country Director Takaya Shishido reflected on the importance of Japan and Hawai‘i businesses working together on initiatives that promote sustainability: "We are honored to join the Shirarahama Waikiki Beach Friendship Committee in a beach cleanup that shares a special connection with Hawai‘i,” he said. “Through these activities, we can share with residents and travelers what it means to travel pono (responsibly) and why preserving our coastal communities is an important step in building a sustainable future."
Before the sun began to set, participants arranged 2,021 candles across the sand with a message for the sister beach, located over 6,000 miles across the Pacific. "ALOHA WAIKIKI" shone brightly from the beach while a fireworks display illuminated the night sky.
"Japan and Hawai‘i share such a special relationship,” Keiko Tsukui, Hawaiian’s manager of Japan partnerships and promotions, said following the ceremony. “I’m grateful that all of us, many of whom work in travel and tourism, can come together with a common goal of caring for these cherished areas so that they can be enjoyed by generations to come.”