The members of Jimpu Kai Kin Ryosho Ryukyu Geino Kenkyusho, Hawaii Shibu, hosted “An Evening of Asia-Pacific Cuisine” at Kapi‘olani Community College’s Ka‘ikena Fine Dining Restaurant on April 21. Jimpu Kai artistic director Cheryl Yoshie Nakasone-Sensei described 2015 as “a milestone year for us,” highlighted by Jimpu Kai USA’s performance of Ryükyüan classical dance and kumiwudui — or kumi odori (classical Okinawan dance dramas) — at the Kokuritsu Gekijö (National Theater Okinawa) in Okinawa. This year marks Jimpu Kai’s 40th anniversary as an Okinawan dance school.
Jimpu Kai student Corey Zukeran said it was a great experience to perform at the Kokuritsu Gekijo. For many in the school, it was their first experience performing in Okinawa, the motherland of the art. Jimpu Kai’s performance also marked the first time in many years that the Shuri style of kumi odori was performed in Okinawa. Shuri, now a district of Naha City, was once the capital of the Ryükyü Kingdom.
While in Okinawa, the students paid their respects at the grave of Kin Ryosho-Sensei, who taught and inspired Nakasone-Sensei. Kin-Sensei was known for his kumi odori dances. Nakasone-Sensei said she plans to continue working on projects to perpetuate Kin-Sensei’s legacy.
The fundraising event featured food creations — salads, main dishes and desserts — by Chefs Grant Sato and Warren Uchida of KCC’s Culinary Arts Program. Students in Uchida’s Asia-Pacific cuisine class prepared all of the dishes, including a few Okinawan favorites, such as goya champuru, a bittermelon, tofu and egg stir-fry. The entertainment portion of the program featured dances by Jimpu Kai members, the ‘ukulele duo of Honoka and Azita and songs by Kaweo Kanoho from Hilo, who sometimes performs with the Hawaii Opera Theatre.