Deigo Club members knew that celebrating the new year in April was a bit late. Then again, club members didn’t know whether the club would still be in existence to celebrate the arrival of 2015. However, thanks to the dedication of Yasuko Arakawa, who agreed to serve as the club’s president — its first woman president — the Deigo Club will continue, for now.

Deigo Club members gathered at the Natsunoya Tea House on April 5 for their annual shinnen enkai. Afuso Ryu Gensei Kai Hawaii Shibu president Grant “Sandaa” Murata-Sensei was asked to offer greetings on behalf of the guests in attendance. He talked about the early history of the Deigo Club and emphasized the important role it has played in easing the transition to life in America for new arrivals from Okinawa.

In his outgoing president’s message, Stanley Oshiro said the club’s core group was concerned about who would lead the club. The situation was so dire that they even considered disbanding. Fortunately, Arakawa, an Okinawan koto sensei now retired from her bread-and-butter job, stepped up to serve as president.

Arakawa said she was worried about the Deigo Club’s future and discussed her concerns with fellow koto sensei, Sunny Tominaga, who also is a Deigo Club member. Arakawa urged the club members to share their ideas for activities or to improve the club with herself and the club’s officers and to support the club by participating.

Serving with Arakawa will be: Seiichi Yagi and Yoshimitsu Uehara, vice presidents; Sunny Tominaga, Japanese secretary; Haruko Itomura, assistant Japanese secretary; Elaine Sato, English secretary; and Setsuko Iho and Elsie Masako Nakama, treasurers.

The Deigo Club was established in 1949. It was initially made up of Hawai‘i-born Nisei who had spent their childhood years in Okinawa and returned to Hawai‘i as teens. In the ensuing years, however, the club came to be made up primarily of postwar immigrants from Okinawa who enjoyed getting together with Uchinanchu who had similar experiences. Because of that common bond, most of the day’s program was conducted in Japanese and Uchinaaguchi.

Kampai were offered by ikebana sensei Nobuko Kida and founding member Masaru Nakama.

The entertainment portion of the program featured Okinawan music and dances, as well as Okinawan and Japanese karaoke numbers.


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