About & Vision of the

Traditional Tattoo Festival

The Traditional Tattoo Festival is a long-held vision and dream of Joël Tan, event organizer and manager of the GRACE Center at Kohala Institute and this vision came to him in a dream.

The driving question under all of it is: What are the patterns that connect us? At a time of deepening social and political divides, what better way to bring many different people together? A lot of times when there is a tough issue or controversial topic, if you put it in the realm of the artist and explore through creative expression, you open up the discussion and allow for more exploration.


The festival focuses on inclusivity. We hope to dissolve colonial divisions and reaffirm interrelatedness between Indigenous peoples. Given generations of oppression and cultural suppression across Indigenous cultures, we now have a significant need to preserve and share traditional and ancient knowledge.

This is history. We now live during a time when Hawaiian people and those of Indigenous cultures will experience a renaissance of culture and life, the emergence of even greater spirit.


The time has arrived for every person to flow within the currents of wisdom and spirit.

We are excited to bring Hawaii's first Traditional Tattoo Festival to Kohala to create awareness as we continue to link the patterns that connect us.


Support provided by Hawai‘i Tourism Authority through the Community Enrichment Program and a grant from the Hawai'i Council for Humanities.


The Traditional Tattoo Festival is hosted by the following businesses and non-profits:

Kohala Institute, Blue Dragon Tavern & Cosmic Musiquarium, and Kohala Village HUB.


The Kohala Institute

53–580 ‘Iole Road
KAapa’au, HI 96755




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Directions from Kona Airport:


61-3616 Kawaihae Rd, Waimea, HI 96743

• From airport turn left on HI 19 (26.1 mi)

• Turn left on HI 270 (1.4 mi)

• Destination will be on your right


55-514 Hawi Rd, Hawi, HI 96719

• From airport turn left on HI 19 (26.1 mi)

• Turn left on HI 270 and in 1.5 mi turn right to stay on HI 270 (17.7 mi)

• Turn right on Hawi Road and your destination will be on your right.

53-580 Iole Rd, Kapaau, HI 96755

• From airport turn left on HI 19 (26.1 mi)

• Turn left on HI 270 and in 1.5 mi turn right to stay on HI 270 (20.6 mi)

• Turn right onto 'Iole Rd and about .7 mi you will arrive at your destination

© 2019 Traditional Tattoo Festival and Kohala Institute