Hakuoh University’s popular Handbell Choir returned to Honolulu in March to present two public concerts. The choir members, who ring seven octaves of handbells, performed at Palikü Theatre at Windward Community College and at Central Union Church. Hakuoh University’s music director, Professor Hirotaka Arai, established the handbell choir in 1988. He continues to arrange handbell numbers for the group and also directs the choir. The Hakuoh handbellers have developed a following in Hawai‘i — their audiences looking forward to their visits and music every year.
The handbell choir began visiting Hawai‘i in 1991 at the suggestion of Hawai‘i residents Richard and Irene Kaichi. Richard Kaichi had taught at Hakuoh University, a private university in Tochigi Prefecture owned and operated by the Kamioka family, for about a year. After returning to Hawai‘i, the Kaichis facilitated a partnership with the University of Hawai‘i Community Colleges, then-led by Chancellor Joyce Tsunoda. After retiring as UH senior vice president and chancellor emeritus in 2003, Hakuoh University invited Tsunoda, who was born in Japan and is bilingual, to teach at the college.