Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce members and their guests rang in the “Year of the Boar (or Pig, if you prefer)” at the chamber’s 74th annual shinnenkai (New Year’s party) on Jan. 4 at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. The event was attended by some 300 people, including HJCC members, their families and friends. The highlight of the event was the “Shoko Shiranami Gonin Otoko” play, featuring a new “class” of budding kabuki stars.
HJCC board chair Melanie Okazaki welcomed the guests and thanked co-chairs Rick Mishima and Ina Chang and their committee for putting together a memorable event.
Okazaki also acknowledged the “Shoko Shiranami Gonin Otoko” production team, including sensei (teachers) Robert Nagao, producer and director; Ronald Ushijima and Gregg Mueller, script and casting; Rika Hirata, Japanese script; and advisor Walter Saito, for the time and dedication they put into developing not only an entertaining play, but one that highlighted the talents of its stars.
The “Shoko Shiranami Gonin Otoko” production team also included shamisen performer Kineya Samei, with Kineya Satsuma and Kineya Satsuharu on drums and percussion. Hanayagi Dancing Academy Hawaii Foundation members dressed the stars and applied their stage makeup.
Bishop Daiya Amano of the Izumo Taishakyo Mission of Hawaii performed a traditional Shintö blessing and offered the invocation before dinner. Consul General of Japan Koichi Ito offered the kanpai to the HJCC. He also thanked the HJCC for supporting last year’s Gannenmono 150th anniversary commemoration. Nippon Club president Rika Hirata offered the kanpai to the guests.
The “HJCC’s Got Talent” show after dinner served as the “warm-up act” before the kabuki play. It featured HJCC members Gus Yniguez and Craig Hirasaki singing the popular tune, “The Prayer.” Yniguez is the broker/owner of The Surrealty Group, and Hirasaki owns ConnectWorks Group Hawaii.
The highlight of the evening, the “Shoko Shiranami Gonin Otoko” show, is described as a “modified kabuki play” set on the banks of the River Inase in Ösaka during the Edo Period. It features five dorobo, or thieves, who boast about their professional and personal accomplishments.
This year’s five dorobo stars were:
• Alan Kinuhata, president of ESP Hawaii, as Nihon Daemon;
• Jennifer Okubo, an associate attorney in The Law Office of Stephen H. Reese, as Benten Kozo
• Ray Tsuchiyama, chief operating officer of Guild Consulting, as Tadanobu Rihei;
• Daisuke “Duke” Ueda, vice president of Resorttrust Hawaii, LLC, as Akaboshi Jyüzaburo;
• Kristin Alm Kamakahi, human resources manager for Remedy Intelligent Staffing, portraying Nango Rikimaru, and also playing key roles were:
• Kevin Ching, project director for LbE Hawaii LLC, as Meakashi Kingoro; and
• Chef Alan Wong, president of Alan Wong’s Restaurants, as the Kojyo.
The audience teased the Gonin Otoko performers with humorous critiques, suggestions, laughter and cheers.
HJCC chair-elect Jon Tsukamoto closed the evening by leading the audience in a traditional tejime.
The “Shoko Shiranami Gonin Otoko” performance was videotaped by ‘Ölelo Community Media and will be shown on the following dates on ‘Ölelo Channel 53:
• Saturday, Feb. 2, and Tuesday, Feb. 5, at 8 p.m.;
•Thursday, Feb. 7, at 3 p.m.; and
• Friday, Feb. 8, at 10 p.m.