Honolulu-Naha Sister City 60th Anniversary (Hawaii)

History of Okinawan immigration begins in January 1900, when the first 26 migrants from Okinawa arrived in Hawai‘i to seek better lives for themselves and their descendants. Now Hawai‘i residents of Okinawa ancestry number approximately 50,000, one of the largest ethnic groups in Hawai‘i.  Okinawan workers faced significant discrimination when they arrived, but they successfully created a life for themselves and their descendants. Okinawans (Uchinanchu) are proud of their distinct culture, independence, and legacy in Hawai`i. The Hawai‘i Okinawa Center is one of the largest cultural centers in Hawai‘i and the annual Okinawan Festival is one of the largest ethnic community events on O‘ahu.

Link to article

Sixteen rainbow shower trees were planted at the Patsy T. Mink Central Oahu Regional Park (it’s actually across the street from the Hawaii Okinawa Center HUOA). The grove of rainbow shower trees can be found near the southern entrance of the park and hopefully I’ll be able to share a photo of it one day.

One thing I have wondered is why rainbow shower trees (in Okinawa they have the golden shower trees). Although I wasn’t able to find its significance in Okinawa, the tree has cultural importance in Thailand and the Philippines.

Event: 3rd Eisa Drum Festival at Kapi’olani Community College on May 11th

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3rd Eisa Drum Festival at Kapi’olani Community College on May 11th
A Celebration of Okinawan Culture with Drums, Lions, Music, and Karate

Kapi’olani Community College and the Office of Student Activities are pleased to present the third Eisa Drum Festival on Saturday, May 11 from 5:30 to 9 pm, on the Great Lawn (center of campus). The outdoor festival brings together ‘ono food prepared by Kapi’olani CC culinary program and the spectacular art form of taiko performed amid the beauty of Diamond Head under the stars. The program begins at 6 pm. The event is free and open to the public, with ample parking on campus.

Performers include Chinagu Eisa Hawai’i, Hawai’i Okinawa Creative Arts, Hawai’i Taiko Kai, Okinawa Shorin-Ryu Karate and Urizun Minyo Group. This year’s festival also features special guest performers from Okinawa, including Daiichi Hirata, acclaimed producer, choreographer, and musician, as well as members of Requios, the 2012 World Eisa Competition winner.

Eisa is a form of dance and drumming unique to the people of Okinawa. Originally performed as part of a religious function honoring those who have passed, modern Eisa is an exhilarating combination of singing, chanting, dancing and drumming. In Okinawa and Hawai’i, Eisa continues to be performed at Bon Dances. This year’s festival will feature contemporary styles of drumming, with Okinawan taiko, karate, lions, and contemporary folk music.

“The first two festivals have been described as ‘magical’ and we hope to continue that tradition in our third year,” said Shari Tamashiro, Kapi’olani CC Cybrarian, and one of the coordinators of the festival. “We’re also very pleased to have celebrity chef instructor Grant Sato and Kapi’olani CC’s famous culinary program managing the food booths.”

“The bringing together of Island People, Daiichi Hirata from Okinawa and Kawika Napoleon from Hawai’i, was so dynamic. . . it brought forth a sense of joy and pride from within,” said Dorene Niibu of Windard CC.

“When I think of Eisa Fest, I think of it as the first major event of the summer,” said Jonathan Wong, faculty member at Kapi’olani CC. “To me, it signals that summer is here and what better way to start the summer off with a bang than with drums, food, music and stars.”

Enjoy an evening under the stars. Bring lawn chairs to sit on, blankets, and jackets. Up to date information on program, schedule, parking, maps, and food items on sale will be posted at http://www.facebook.com/eisahawaii. Alcohol is strictly prohibited at the event.

To see videos of the 2nd Eisa Festival, go to: http://bit.ly/17quWKz. For photos, go to: http://smu.gs/Z4Mpbj.

Event: Special Eisa Concert: Naha Daiko & Chinagu Eisa Hawaii with Singer Ikeda Suguru

Chinagu Eisa Hawaii is a local eisa drum group that I have been a fan of for some time. They perform a contemporary style of eisa. The symbol of the group is the kanji “kizuna,” which means strong emotional bonds. For the group, it represents the connection between generations of drummers, between Okinawa and Hawaii, between East and West, and the connection that you have with your culture as an individual.

The group formed in 2008 and first performed with their sister group, Naha Daiko of Naha City, at the 2010 Okinawa Festival and have sent students to train in Okinawa with them. Naha Daiko is a professional eisa group from Okinawa.

Saturday, September 8, 2012 (2:00pm and 6:00pm) at Mamiya Theatre

(via Shari T.)

Event: Suruti Chibarana -Striving Together-

Maui Okinawa Taiko and Jimpu Kai Maui will have a joint anniversary recital on Sunday, 24 June 2012, at the Baldwin High School Auditorium. The recital, which starts at 2:00pm, celebrates Maui Okinawa Taiko’s 15th anniversary and Jimpu Kai Maui’s 10th anniversary.

Tickets are $12.00 for general admission and $10.00 for seniors 55 and over and children 12 and under. For more information, call the Maui Okinawa Cultural Center at (808) 242-1560.

Download the flyer (JPG, 103 KB)

(h/t Char Gima)

Event: Okinawa Association of America’s Annual Picnic

Joseph Kamiya:

Every year, the organization hosts a picnic in South El Monte, California. We feature live entertainment (sanshin, taiko, odori, martial arts, hula, etc.), games and festivities for children, bento boxes, free shaved ice, great raffle prizes, and our big Bon Dance finale! We also award a few high school students with our annual scholarships.

Okinawa Association of America’s Annual Picnic on Sunday, 8 July 2012, from 11am to 4pm. Takes place at Whittier Narrows Recreation Area #1, 750 South Santa Anita Avenue, South El Monte, CA. Admission is free.

More information can be found on their Facebook page and check out their YouTube channel for videos from their past events.

(via Joseph Kamiya)

Ryu-Unit, New Jap Swing

I’ve been wondering what happened to the original members of DA PUMP after KEN left in 2009. I saw Shinobu’s Okinawan Pop group in Tokyo back in 2009, ISSA recently starred in the “Ryujin Mabuyer” film, and now I know what’s happened to the other two members. KEN and YUKINARI formed an all-Okinawan hip-hop trio (along with dancer/vocalist AI) called Ryu-Unit (流-UNIT) in 2010 and have released a handful of singles with one of them, “LIKE THAT”, available on the US iTunes Store (link). I’m hoping they’ll incorporate Okinawan music into their style of hip-hop (Oki-hop? LOL) but for now I’m just glad that they’re still performing. They have a YouTube channel so be sure to check out their videos and let me know what you think.