Members of the Hawaii Ginoza Sonjin Kai celebrated the 70th anniversary of their club’s formation in 1948 by reconnecting with their Ginoza “cousins” in Okinawa at two events last November — a music and dance performance at the Hawaii Okinawa Center and a festive party at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i.
The Nov. 29 performance, titled “Ginoza Son: Geinou Kouryu Kouen (Yui), Volume 2,” featured a full program of music and dances by performers from Ginoza, including some dances and costuming never before seen in Hawai‘i.
The party the next night was truly a reunion of “cousins.” Many began the evening as strangers, only to end it as good friends, talking and laughing with each other and dancing around the room together.
Hawaii Ginoza Sonjin Kai president David Shinsato welcomed the nearly 100 guests from Ginoza Village to the club’s 70th anniversary celebration. Shinsato became active in the club after living in Ginoza Village for three months in 2016 as the first Kenshusei from Hawai‘i, a Ginoza Village government program. He studied Japanese language, learned to play sanshin and learned about his ancestral roots.
The Ginoza Village government started the program 30 years ago, bringing the descendants of Ginoza emigrants from Brazil, Peru, Argentina — and since 2016 after meeting with then-Ginoza Sonjin Kai president Vince Watabu — from Hawai‘i to live in their ancestral village. The Kenshusei must be between the ages of 20 to 35. They live in a dormitory during the week and attend classes and participate in activities. On weekends, they homestay with relatives or other Ginoza families.
In 2017, Danelle Shimabukuro was selected as the Hawai‘i Kenshusei, and last year, Tori Ishikawa became the third Hawai‘i Kenshusei to live in Ginoza. All three former Kenshusei are now active in the Hawaii Ginoza Sonjin Kai.
In 2016, another group of performers from Ginoza presented a program of music and dance at the Hawaii Okinawa Center.