“UCHINANCHU OF THE YEAR” AND HUOA INSTALLATION
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! and tun-tun-ten! The taiko drums and sanshin kicked off the live-stream celebration of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association’s Uchinanchu of the Year and 71st Installation with a performance by Chinagu Eisa Hawaii. On Jan. 16, the hour-and-a-half virtual event was streamed via the HUOA YouTube channel (youtube.com/watch?v=a4I9UiUR5FI) and Facebook page (facebook.com/HUOA.org/videos/huoa-uchinanchu-of-the-year-71st-huoa-installation-live-stream-event/265846878293430/). “Chimugukuru Tiichi – All hearts unite as one” was the theme for the event and also HUOA’s theme for 2021.
The words “hope” and “believe” hung on the wall beside Pastor Russ Higa who blessed the celebration, participants and viewers with an invocation followed by the introduction of the 2020 HUOA Executive Council. The council included Lynn Miyahira, president; Patrick Miyashiro, president elect; David Jones, vice president; Naomi Oshiro, vice president; Christopher Agena, vice president; Terry Goya, executive secretary; Sandra Yanagi, assistant executive secretary; Chikako Nago, Japanese-language secretary; Norman Nakasone, treasurer; Courtney Takara, assistant treasurer; and Jon Itomura, executive director.
Miyahira highlighted the “new skills and new ideas” that were required by HUOA to adapt to the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. “Despite the difficulties, I am proud that we were able to launch into a new era with online events such as the ‘Okinawan Virtual Festival’ and ‘Yuntaku Live Series.’ We now have new digital platforms and an online marketplace that will insure that HUOA is ready for the future,” said Miyahira. She expressed her gratitude for the previous generations of Uchinanchu and said, “Ukaji deebiru – it is because of all of you, both young and old, that we have such a strong and confident community here in Hawai‘i.”
Following Miyahira’s “President’s Message,” Gov. David Ige and wife Dawn praised the first HUOA Virtual Okinawan Festival and the adaptability of the HUOA board and members. They also welcomed 2021 President Patrick Miyashiro and pointed out that his theme, “Chimugukuru Tiichi,” is “significant and relevant as we support one another in recovering from a challenging 2020.”
Okinawa Prefecture’s Gov. Denny Tamaki also expressed that he felt Hawaii and Okinawa’s connection through the Virtual Okinawan Festival held in September and made a plea for everyone to unite their hearts in Hawai‘i, Okinawa and around the world.
Selected by each Okinawan-village club, the “Uchinanchu of the Year” are honoree members recognized for their continuous commitment and dedication to perpetuating Okinawan culture and heritage. This year there were 31 “Uchinanchu of the Year”: Guy Agena (Aza Gushikawa Doshi Kai), Malcom Chinen (Chatan-Kadena Chojin Kai), Greg and Melissa Yamashiro (Club Motobu), Clyde Sato (Gaza Yonagusuku Doshi Kai), Sandra Nishimoto (Ginowan Shijin Kai), Anita Beppu (Ginoza Sonjin Kai), Paul Kaneshiro (Gushikawa Shinjin Kai), Laura Miyashiro (Haneji Club), Mel and Dorothy Gushiken (Hawaii Sashiki Chinen Doshi Kai), Caroline Okazaki (Hawaii Shuri-Naha Club), David and Lee Anne Miyashiro (Hui Alu, Inc.), Karen Shishido (Hui Makaala), Kay Nagamine (Hui Okinawa), George Toyama (Kin Chojin Kai), Gilbert Taira (Kona Okinawa Kenjin Kai), Darren Konno (Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai), Terry Goya (Nishihara Chojin Kai), Mae Kuba Chung (Okinawa City Goeku), Shigeru Yoshimoto (Okinawan Genealogical Society of Hawaii), Ethel Teruya (Oroku Azajin Club), Genevieve “Genny” Samonson (Osato doshi Kai), Brianne Yamada (Shinka), Candice Chun (Wahiawa Okinawa Kyoyu Kai), Joy and Kristen Murashige (Yomitan Club), Betty Ganeku (Yamashiro Chojin Kai), and Naomi Reagan (Young Okinawans of Hawaii).
In his president’s message, Miyashiro expressed heartfelt gratitude to all the Uchinanchu of the Year for their hard work, dedication and contributions to the community.
Mayor of Ginowan City (Miyashiro’s ancestral village in Okinawa), Masanori Matsugawa, congratulated Miyashiro and credited him for strengthening the bond between Hawai‘i and Okinawa’s connection during his many years as president of Ginowan Shijin Kai and as a member of Hawaii Taiko Kai.
To begin the entertainment portion of the program, Ginowan Club member Jay Higa introduced a well-known classical dance entitle “Kazadihuu Bushi.” Miyashiro’s granddaughter Kaitlynn Canubida danced while he accompanied her by playing the taiko. The Hooge Ryu Hana Nuuzi No Kai-Nakasone Dance Academy, of which Canubida is a member, performed two more vibrant and beautiful numbers. Chinagu Eisa Hawaii returned for an energizing finale performance before it was time for everyone at home, all over Hawaii and abroad to get up and kachaashii (Okinawan freestyle dance).
Miyashiro and the HUOA board plan to continue their online format for now, prioritizing the health and safety of the community.
The HUOA’s mission is to promote, perpetuate and preserve Uchinanchu culture. The organization is made up of 49 participating Okinawan-village clubs, whose combined membership total exceeds 40,000, making it the largest Japanese organization in Hawaiʻi. For more information, visit huoa.org.
URASENKE HAWAII ASSOCIATION HOSTS 1ST TEA OF 2021
The Chadō Urasenke Tankökai Hawaii Association, better known as Urasenke Hawaii Association, held its “Hatsudate Shiki” or first classical Japanese tea ceremony of the year, in a virtual live + prerecorded video session hosted via Zoom. Broadcast from Hanyo-an, the Waikïkï tea house of the non-profit Urasenke Foundation of Hawaii, the streamed ceremony was hosted by Urasenke Hawaii Association Chief of Administration Takemi Nakasone with light, graceful energy. Behind her in the tea house alcove hung a shikishi (square piece of cardstock used as a scroll) sporting beautiful kanji calligraphy that declared, “Buji kore kounen” (“) or “A safe year is a good year.” This protective, coronavirus-era message by Dr. Genshitsu Sen Daisösho — the 97-year-old, 15th-generation, (retired) grand master of Japan’s Urasenke organization — was meant to “wish for a safe year for everyone,” explained Nakasone in an email interview with the Herald.
Nakasone shared with the viewing audience that, in addition to the scroll, the tea-house alcove featured a lovely tsubaki (camellia) flower and curled willow birch placed into a purple Kochiware vase (Treasures design) made by Nanzan Ito, as well as a hard-to-find Busshükan or “Buddha’s hand” on a tray. This auspicious but rare fruit resembles the many arms of the Japanese deity and is used as decoration during the New Year period when available (the Tankökai found it at Whole Foods!). The overall mood set in the first minutes of the livestream was that of peaceful tranquility.
The 64 members and guests of the Urasenke Hawaii Association who made up the audience of this livestream could watch the broadcast and video clips, while enjoying their “hatsu haru” (New Year’s celebration) bento sets from Obentö Rinka, which many opted to purchase along with a set of macha tea and Eto manjü (Chinese zodiac-printed sweets). They made their tea at home; some even delighted in sake while watching the Hatsudate Shiki, as members had received a sake cup with the Chinese zodiac sign of the ox on it. “We were trying to replicate our typical Hatsudate, which consists of two seatings, tea and tenshin, or a light meal with sake,” Nakasone revealed to the Herald.
Beginning the formal part of the event, Nakasone showed a video of the Japanese Urasenke organization’s current grand master, Söshitsu Sen XVI (Zabösai Iemoto), giving his New Year’s greeting to overseas “way of tea” practitioners. Zabösai emphasized the steadfastness and comfort of chadö (the “way of tea” spiritual-artistic tradition, also called cha no yu) during this past year of incredible stress and anxiety. He counseled members of the global Urasenke community that no matter what, “anshin no ocha … anzen na ocha, kokoro o yasumaru ocha” (tea that makes one feel reassured … tea that furnishes a sense of safety, tea that relaxes the heart) would help them maintain a calm presence of mind. [This video is available to Urasenke members who log in to the Japanese organization’s site at www.urasenke.or.jp/texte/vindex.html, until Sunday, Feb. 28.]
Before the video of the Hatsudate Shiki ceremony, the Urasenke Hawaii Association showed a short, artful slideshow and video clips about what it has done in the past year. This summary included photos of members carefully participating in various community events, including the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i’s ‘Ohana Festival (pre-coronavirus) during the last New Year, the United Japanese Society of Hawaii’s virtual moon-viewing activity and the thorough inventory that the Urasenke Hawaii Association’s leaders took of its own dogü or tea instruments as a safe, useful organizational activity when they were forced to not hold in-person events due to COVID-19. The Herald’s longtime freelance writer, Wayne Muromoto, shot and edited this part of the livestream as the Tankōkai’s vice chief of administration. We enjoyed the way his video clips showed an elegantly placed set of dogü on a forested mountain path, allowing us a beautiful view of nature from that high point above everything, both at the start and end of the slideshow.
Introducing the first tea ceremony of the year were Urasenke Hawaii Association President Dennis Ogawa (who also closed the broadcast of the Hatsudate Shiki video), and, right before the
Hatsudate Shiki ceremony, the new Consul General of Japan in Hawai‘i, Yutaka Aoki. Aoki spoke personably about how he had been assigned to four other countries by the Japanese government (including Canada, Cambodia and Indonesia) before coming to live in the islands and how he had earlier worked to promote Japanese culture overseas as the general manager of the Japan Foundation. As a result, well aware of what it meant to represent Japan to the world, the Consul General had been impressed by how Genshitsu Sen Daisōsho (Sōshi-tsu Sen XV) through chadō had for 70 years made a significant contribution to mutual understanding and friendship internationally. “I wish continued prosperity to the Urasenke Foundation of Hawaii,” the Consul General said. Aoki also emphasized that COVID-19 “cannot prevent us from sharing our hearts,” because “through experiences such as the ʻway of tea’…the exchange of hearts becomes more important” (than the virus).
Muromoto also shot and edited the first-tea-ceremony video, filmed within Hanyo-an’s zashiki (ta-tami-mat-covered) rooms and other locations within that Japanese-style tea house. It included footage of stylishly crafted dogū loaned by the Urasenke Foundation of Hawaii and of kashi (traditional Japanese sweets; here, hanabira mochi or flower-petal rice cake) made by members of the Urasenke Hawaii Association. Cha no yu practitioners in the short film wore tasteful facemasks except when readying to drink the tea or eat the sweets, reinforcing the message of safety written in Daisōsho’s scroll.
After the Hatsudate Shiki video, the streamed event ended with Nakasone announcing that it was the Urasenke Hawaii Association’s 70th anniversary and that events will be planned in celebration. Additionally, the Hanyo-an tea house in Waikīkī will soon be open with COVID-19 protocols, so those interested in visiting or using the rooms should call the Urasenke Foundation at 923-3059 for reservations.
Special prizes donated to the Foundation were given out to at the event’s closing. These fukusa (silk cloth used to purify tea-ceremony utensils and upon which the utensils are placed) were made by famous Kyōto clothmaker Tokusai, a cha no yu textile shop that has been around for three centuries (kitamura-tokusai.jp/en). The event ended in a high note for eight lucky members whose names were drawn randomly from the attendee list.
JACL NATIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS FOR UNDERGRADS AND OTHER STUDENTS
Money for school! February is prime financial-aid application time, for college students and their parents who could use a break from paying all that moolah for their children’s tuition. For instance, check out hawaii.edu/fas/info/scholarships.php on the University of Hawai‘i-Mānoa Financial Aid Office website for a start; or the scholarship webpages of financial aid offices on various UH-system campuses. In addition to upcoming deadlines for UH and local scholarship offerings, the UH System Common Scholarship Applicationʻs deadline is Monday, Mar. 1 (see hawaii.edu/tuition/scholarships/how-to-apply/).
But just because your child or grandchild is not attending a mainland college, does not mean she/he/they cannot look to national sources for tuition and other funding. The national office of the Japanese Americans Citizens League, for example, offers over 30 awards across the U.S., totaling over $70,000 in one-time scholarships this year. This program, started in 1946, is now not only for undergraduates including entering freshmen who are currently high-school seniors, but also for graduate and law students as well as those in the creative and performing arts (though not professionals), plus students with financial need. Applicants must plan to attend school full-time including trade schools, business schools, colleges/universities, and other institutions of higher learning within the US in Fall 2021.
The deadline is Monday, Mar. 1, at 11:59 p.m., HST, for entering-freshman applications by high-school seniors who should submit directly to the national JACL via jacl.org/jacl-national-scholarship-program/ (this link includes an overview, various rules and application forms/portals). Applications by other undergraduates or by graduate, law, creative and performing arts and financial aid applicants, should be submitted through the above link by Thursday, Apr. 1, at 11:59 p.m., HST.
Applicants must be active national JACL members (holding an Individual or a Student/Youth Membership, not falling under their parents’ Couple/Family Membership), a status open to anyone from any ethnic background. Memberships can be bought or renewed here: jacl.org/member/.
Applications are fully online but must be completed in a single sitting (the webpage will not save your work if you exit it before entering your answers/materials). Applicants are required to send a complete scholarship application including the aforementioned JACL membership; a personal statement; a letter of recommendation; official transcripts; and information on work experience, on extracurricular activities and on JACL and community Involvement. For more instructions, see jacl.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2020/12/2021-Scholarship-Program-Guidelines-FINAL.pdf. Contact Scholarship Program Manager Matthew Weisbly at email@example.com with questions.