The Cultural Significance of Hawaiian Dance in Japan.


Margaret Ochner

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I plan to study the cultural significance of Hawaiian dance (hula) in Japan. A component of Japanese culture comprises their tendency to 'adopt,' 'adapt,' and become 'adept' at a foreign theory or project. Is the presence of hula in Japan simply another form of the Japanese tendency to 'borrow' foreign ideas and copy them without really understanding them?If the hula is merely a hobby, how are Japanese groups able to compete with--and sometimes defeat--Hawaiian groups? Thus, questions remain to what extent the cultural significance of hula is being perpetuated in Japan by these Japanese halau (dance groups) and, if so, how it is done.I intend to discover what the motivations of the Japanese participants are in learning hula, how hula fits culturally into Japan, and what hula means to the Japanese.If the Japanese find hula culturally important to perpetuate, do they fully understand the history and significance behind the songs and dance itself? This is a central issue of my proposed research. The effect of modernization and globalization has caused our world to become 'smaller,' and increasingly cause cultural diffusions, like hula in Japan, to occur.The question arises as to what extent another culture or groups of people adopt a foreign culture and maintain its 'genuine' self. Moreover, how do these newly introduced cultures 'fit' into other cultures? I hope to answer, or begin to discover the answers, to these broad questions of what 'culture' means in this rapidly modernized world by examining the case of hula in Japan.


Scott Littleotn




Paul K. & Evalyn E. Cook Richter Trusts - International Fellowship

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