Alumna Danielle Takeshita returns to UH Hilo to share her new novelette

The author is excited about returning to her alma mater to share her new book, 5 Senses. She describes her talk and book signing as “coming full circle.”

By Susan Enright.

Danielle Takeshita, cute pose laughing.
Danielle Takeshita

Alumna and budding author Danielle Takeshita returns to the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo this month for a public talk and book signing for her debut novelette, 5 Senses (2015, Word Branch Publishing). The 2012 graduate earned a bachelor of arts in Japanese studies and a minor in agriculture. For one year of her studies, she studied abroad at Daito Bunka University in Japan as part of the UH Hilo Study Abroad Program.

She currently is a candidate for a masters of science in oriental medicine from the Institute of Clinical Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine in Waimea, Hawai‘i Island.

Takeshita grew up in Los Angeles, California, and moved to Hawai‘i in 1997. She says UH Hilo feels like a “second home,” where she was inspired to write, to travel, and to embrace culture shock as a learning experience.

“I took a fiction writing class (from Professor Mark Panek) that not only inspired me to write but also to have confidence as a writer,” she says. “I’m a Japanese studies major and I had the opportunity to study abroad. During my time in Japan I actually wrote a lot about my experiences in a new culture and learning a new language, and also came up with the main concepts of this book while I was there.”

The author is excited about returning to her alma mater to share her new book. She describes her upcoming talk and book signing as “coming full circle.”

“I attended UH Hilo straight out of high school and though many people say those are your formative years, for me, my formative years were the years I attended UH Hilo,” she explains. “I joined many organizations, learned to network and work with people from various backgrounds. There are so many opportunities and resources at our disposal at UH Hilo and I just want to share what I know with the students.”

5 Senses

Book cover with graphics of lips, tongue and eyes and the words: 5 Senses Daniel TakeshitaTakeshita describes 5 Senses as a young adult urban fantasy about a friendship between Jaime and Iris. Iris was adopted at a very early age, and the story centers around their search for her family.

The book’s publisher, World Branch Publishing, says in a release that “Danielle Takeshita’s haunting new novel masterfully blends the best of the young adult, thriller and the supernatural genres into a tightly written novel with compelling characters. The plot, both action-packed and insightful, will appeal to readers of all ages while the balanced interaction between the characters makes this book a delightful and entertaining read.”

“Danielle’s talent is apparent in the book’s first paragraphs; she knows instinctively how to capture the reader’s attention,” says Catherine Rayburn-Trobaugh, president at Word Branch Publishing.

Excerpt from 5 Senses:


There are some things in life that are so sure: the smell of vanilla, the round, melancholic base of a well-tuned cello, the blue of the sky on its clearest days, the feel of the wind as it brushes against you, a slight chill, or even the creamy flavor of your favorite tomato and basil soup on the tip of your tongue on such a day. The body innately knows these sensations or recognizes it like a long-­lost friend each time you encounter it, forming its own memory with each of our senses. As humans, we are exceedingly fortunate to not only have these senses, but with our kinesthesia. We can recollect a treasure trove of many different memories that accompanied these tangible impressions.

It’s strange how one of my most vivid memories touched upon all of my senses at the tender age of nine after meeting a particular neighbor. I didn’t know it at the time, but that neighbor would be my best friend, and we would be inseparable. She had one thing that distinguished her from everyone else I knew. She was born with something extra.

Hilo is wonderful but Bangkok calls

Takeshita is currently living in Hilo and works at what she calls “the best mom and pop bookstore in Hilo,” Basically Books. “It’s a bookshop but also an indie publisher similar to one I published through,” she says. In the video at right, she opens up a delivery of 5 Senses at the book shop.

But she still has that spirit of travel in her. In December, she will be moving to Bangkok.

“It’ll be a big adventure but I’m hoping I’ll be getting a lot of inspiration since the last time I lived abroad I was inspired to write this book,” she says.

Before she leaves, she’s going to finish up a project she’s doing with UH Hilo’s Center for Global Education and Exchange. “I’m putting together stories from alumni about their culture shock and their experiences while they were studying or traveling abroad,” she says, paying it forward to the students of her alma mater.

Public talk and book signing

Takeshita’s public talk and book signing for her debut novelette, 5 Senses, will be held on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015, at 3:00 p.m. in the Student Services Building, room W-201, on the campus of UH Hilo. The event is sponsored by the Center for Global Education and Exchange.


About the writer of this story: Susan Enright is a public information specialist for the Office of the Chancellor and editor of UH Hilo Stories. She received her bachelor of arts in English and certificate in women’s studies from UH Hilo.