When Frances Nakachi moved to Hawai‘i from Okinawa in 1986, she said she found herself feeling at home in the Okinawan community. Everyone seemed like ‘ohana, or as they say in Okinawa, Ichariba chödë — “Once we meet, we are family.”
So she took her passion for Okinawan dance and created a school that celebrates and fosters the unity of family and spirit of community. This year, that school, Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai Frances Nakachi Ryubu Dojo, is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a dance program titled “Kariyushi Kariyushi,” meaning “Joy and Gratitude,” on Sunday, May 21, at the Hawaii Okinawa Center (94-587 Uke‘e St.) in Waipahu. The performance will begin at 3 p.m. (doors open at 2:30 p.m.).
“Kariyushi Kariyushi” will take the audience through life’s journey — sharing stories from childhood, of young adults coming-of-age and of elders sharing pearls of wisdom.
Joining the performance will be a number of cultural treasures from Okinawa, including Grandmaster Yoshiko Tanita-Sensei, who has been designated a National Intangible Cultural Asset of Japan; Grandmaster Mieko Kinjo-Sensei and Kaishu Miyoshi Higa-Sensei, who will perform their rarely seen “Kanzeku” and “Sudama Nuchidana.” They will be joined by Senju Kai’s adult and teen dancers. Senju Kai creative director Frances Nakachi-Sensei will perform the masterpiece dance, “Higasa Odori,” which was choreographed in 1934 by Seigi Tamagusuku-Sensei, founder of the Tamagusuku style of dance. There will also be dynamic karate numbers as well as dances that celebrate the sweetness of children at play.
From one student in 1997, Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai Hawaii Frances Nakachi Ryubu Dojo has grown to 24 students, ranging in age from 2 to 77. Classes are held at the Manoa Japanese Language School. As a newcomer to the geinö (performing arts) community in 1997, she said she was impressed to see the various schools and groups supporting one another.
At a March 9 launch event for the performance, Senju Kai advisor and past president of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association Dexter Teruya said he was impressed with Hawai‘i’s Okinawan performing arts community. “I really appreciate you folks working hard and teaching all the people to dance, play koto and sanshin. He said he began to truly appreciate Okinawan culture after learning sanshin himself and finding that he could recognize songs he was learning. “The more you learn, the more you want to learn,” he said. “To perpetuate the culture, we need to appreciate the cultural sensei (teachers).”
“This school has grown,” said fellow Senju Kai advisor Sandra Goya, crediting Nakachi-Sensei for that growth.
General seating tickets for “Kariyushi, Kariyushi” are $35. VIP tickets are also available for $150 each (or two tickets for $250), which includes a package of perks, including a keepsake booklet containing stories on art and culture, reserved parking and seating and more. For more information, contact Eric Kobayashi at (808) 758-8828.