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‘Worth the wait’: Robert Cazimero among Hawaii artists returning to Japan

They’re among the first Hawaii artists who’ve gone back to Japan on tour.
Published: May. 23, 2022 at 4:59 PM HST|Updated: May. 23, 2022 at 5:49 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - After a more than two-year break due to the pandemic, Hawaii singers Robert Cazimero, Kealii Reichel and Kuana Torres Kahele just returned from a concert tour in Japan a week ago.

They’re among the first Hawaii artists who’ve gone back to Japan on tour.

Cazimero, a renowned singer, composer and kumu hula talked to Hawaii News Now on Monday about their Legends 2022 concert and the small group from Hawaii that went on a multi-city whirlwind tour.

Cazimero hadn’t been to Japan since 2019.

The Legends concert had been postponed multiple times because of the pandemic.

For many Hawaii performers, the Japan trips stopped.

“I think for many people, it was like cutting off your arm,” said Cazimero. “If you don’t use your instrument, it eventually wanes and my voice was waning in a really bad way.”

But they were determined to make the trip happen this year.

Travel to Japan for U.S. citizens is starting to slowly open, but still very limited. There’s a COVID test and the wait at the airport lasted more than four hours. A positive test meant quarantine or going home.

Cazimero described waiting for hours at the airport as “stressful.”

“Especially after watching all the people leaving and you are the last one there,” said Cazimero.

He says a woman finally came out of a room showing two thumbs up.

“A huge relief and I have had relief and release that made me feel much better before, but not like this one. That one was very rewarding and humbling to tell you the truth,” said Cazimero.

Once on stage, Cazimero describes an emotional experience between the audience and his fellow legends.

“We are sharing this back and forth feeling with each other and the room is just filled with emotion,” he said.

Cazimero wears the Legends’ signatures on his jeans and has advice for other artists wanting to make their mark in Japan.

“If you want to go, if you really, really want to go, and we all want to go, it is definitely worth the wait,” he said.

Gov. David Ige also just went through COVID testing to get into Japan and spoke with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who’s taking a methodical approach to reopening the country.

Ige doesn’t know when Japan will fully reopen for leisure travel, but many are hoping it will be summertime.

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