Island Viking has produced a
Hawaiian musical tribute to the Emperor of Japan
First 10,000 visitors download it FREE!

It is the FIRST song ever written for/about the Emperor, and among other things this Hawaiian chant honoring the emperor also features vocalization from kabuki (actually Noh drama) and taiko drumming -- a significant first. And the typical brass band arrangement of the national anthem also includes the sound of a Japanese flute, the shakuhachi.

On the links below, "Right Click" and select "Save As" to download.

Download cover art!

1. "Spoken introduction in English" (:54)

2. "Spoken introduction in Hawaiian" (1:01)

3. "Spoken introduction in Japanese" (1:11)

4. "Kimi-ga-yo, Japan's national anthem"
(new instrumental recording by Stanton Haugen & Pierre Grill) (1;06)

5. "He Pa`ipunahele no Tenno Heika (chant)"
(by Kumu Hula Kaha`i Topolinski and Taiko Master Kenny Endo) (2:34)

6. "He Pa`ipunahele no Tenno Heika (song)"
(by Keith Haugen, with music by Pierre Grill & Keith Haugen) (3:04)

7. "Medley of Kimi-ga-Yo and He Pa`ipunahele no Tenno Heika"
Medley of cuts 4 and 6. (4:02)

Download the Lyrics (English and Japanese

"About the Artists"

News Release

Hawaiian song honoring

Japan's Emperor is a "FIRST"

        On July 14, 2009, when the Emperor of Japan arrived in Honolulu, a local composer released a recording that is a significant "first" -- in more ways than one.

        "He Pa`ipunahele no Tenno Heika," composed by Keith Haugen, award-winning local singer/songwriter and Hawaiian language teacher at Star of the Sea Schools in Wai`alae, is believed to be the FIRST musical tribute ever written to honor an emperor of Japan -- in this case, the 125th emperor of the 2500-year old empire.

        It is also the FIRST Hawaiian song and the FIRST Hawaiian chant composed to honor an emperor.

        And it is the FIRST time that Hawaiian chant and Japanese taiko and kakegoe have been recorded together, a blending of art forms from two genre from two distinctive ancient cultures -- Hawaiian and Japanese.

        Haugen, who photographed the Imperial couple on their April 1959 wedding day parade in Tokyo and later when he was invited to the Imperial Palace, got the idea to write a song honoring the emperor after a 2007 concert performance in Japan.  "It's a very Hawaiian way to honor an ali`i nui," he said. 

        His research showed that the Japanese national anthem, "Kimi-ga-Yo," (the emperor's reign) is a possible exception.  It was written as a tanka poem in the 10th century and was set to music in the late 19th century, during the reign of the Emperor Meiji.  It is the oldest national anthem in the world, and one of the shortest.  The Gregorian-style arrangement of a gagaku-style melody is similar to the music of the court.  The words express the desire that the emperor's reign will last forever.  Translated, it is very generic in reference to the emperor.  That ancient poem says:   "May the reign of the Emperor continue for a thousand, nay, eight thousand generations and for the eternity that it takes for small pebbles to grow into a great rock and become covered with moss.” 

        Keith called upon one of Hawai`i's most well-known "traditionalists," kumu hula and chanter John R. Kaha`i Topolinski to chant the song, and then hit upon the idea of another significant musical "first."  He asked Taiko Master Kenny Endo to provide the percussive accompaniment.  Endo added the haunting sounds of kakegoe, a Noh drama vocalization, and the traditional sounds of Japanese taiko drums -- the kozutsumi and odaiko.

        To round out the package, Haugen added three short, spoken introductions -- in English, Hawaiian, and Japanese -- and a "sung" version of the song, plus a new recording of the Japanese national anthem. That rendition features the composer's son, Stanton, playing all the brass instruments in the traditional Japanese arrangement, but with the addition of a shakuhachi flute sound to make it stand out as different from all other recordings of that anthem.  Haugen wrote the melody for the new song in a pentatonic (5-tone) scale, to give it a more Japanese "sound."  It may be the FIRST Hawaiian song ever set to music in other than the traditional European 8-tone scale.

Haugen wrote his first song in 1962, while working for the U.S. government as a photographer in Japan, and has since written more than 200 songs.  About 50 of them have been recorded, locally and internationally, some by such popular local artists as Led Ka`apana, Ohta-san, Brittni Paiva & Melveen Leed, Diana Aki & Cyril Pahinui, The Lim Family, The Waimanalo Keikis, The Sugar Cane Express, The Sounds of Aloha Barbershop Chorus, Jack deMello, and others.  Some of his songs have also been recorded on the Mainland, in Japan, Australia, New Zealand, India.

        This is not the first time that Haugen has offered free downloads of his award-winning music.

Earlier this year, as part of National Military Appreciation Month, he offered a set of five of his patriotic songs -- two of them narrated by U.S. Senator Daniel K. Inouye, and featuring voices and musicianship of The Patriots, The Sounds of Aloha Barbershop Chorus, and others.  Senator Inouye is a Medal of Honor recipient and the third most senior member of the U.S. Senate, now celebrating his 50th year in the U.S. Congress.

        Two years ago, after winning The Literary Award for Song Lyrics from the Hawai`i State Legislature and the Spark M. Matsunaga Institute for Peace, as part of the Inaugural Peace Day Hawai`i, Keith put his "Cease Fire" song on the web site as a free download.  It is still available as part of his promotion of peace.  Keith and his Maui-born wife, Carmen, produce the annual “Peace on Earth” concert.His award-winning "I Ka La `Apopo," about the 1893 overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom (First Place in the 1993 Ho`okuku Mele sponsored by The Friends of the Royal Hawaiian Band) is also available as a free download at

        He is currently writing a new song to honor Father Damien, who will be canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church in October.  He'll probably give that one away too.


© 2009, C. Keith Haugen, Island Viking, P.O. Box 1976, Honolulu, Hawai`i, 96805 USA.
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