Jodie Chiemi Ching
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

As long as there is a love for Japanese enka in Hawai‘i, Lorraine (Asato) Kaneshiro’s spirit will live on in our hearts forever. And on Saturday, June 4, Temari Hawaii will sell some of Lorraine’s beautiful kimono worn on stage when she performed at various engagements in the community. The kimono collection donated by the Kaneshiro family will be part of Temari’s Bolts, Fabric and Fun at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i. 

Recently, president and co-founder of Temari Hawaii, Ann Asakura, invited me and Lorraine’s husband, Arthur “Art” Kaneshiro for coffee at her Kaimukī home, where they shared fond memories of life with Lorraine before she passed away in 1999.

“Lorraine started singing when she was about six-years-old. Music was always a part of the family. She had a phonograph that she played all of Misora Hibari’s records that her mother loved to listen to,” said Art.

At an early age, Lorraine became a part of the Chidori Orchestra led by Charles Mimura. Her voice was often compared to the legendary Misora Hibari because she sang with the same richness and depth. Later Lorraine also performed with the Shin Jidai Band and Uta Matsuri. 

When Lorraine was in high school, she started learning Okinawan dance under Yoshino Majikina Nakasone-Sensei of Majikina Honryu Buyo Dojo until she was no longer physically able to do so. She was one of Majikina Honryu’s original students. Lorraine thought about further studying dance in Okinawa but never got around to doing so despite encouragement from her family. She did encourage others to study in Okinawa and could often be found working backstage for various dance schools and teachers.

“[Lorraine] played a key role in establishing the Karaoke Club at the Hawaii Okinawa Center and jumped at the opportunity to be involved in exposing the next generation to Japanese enka music,” says the biography in the Hawaii United Okinawa Association’s 2019 Legacy awards program. “Along with Clarence Hayase, she served as the director and co-producer of the Uta Matsuri, a Department of Education Music Learning Center project that allowed high school band students to learn how to play Japanese enka music for live singers.” 

Asakura emphasized that Lorraine “made us aware that there were other cultural voices, not just rock ‘n’ roll”

Throughout her musical journey, her love for Misora Hibari songs remained constant. People loved to hear her sing her signature song, “Kawa no Nagare no Youni.” Just like Hibari, it was her last song before leaving the physical world.

According to a Hawai‘i Herald article I published on Oct. 16, 2018, one of Arthur’s favorite memories was his first trip to Japan with Lorraine in 1971. They saw a poster advertising Hibari’s 25th Anniversary performance. “The performance would take place on that very day,” said Art. “Lorraine got really excited and told our friends that we should try to get tickets to the performance. Our friends said skeptically, that those tickets were probably sold out months in advance and the likelihood of getting tickets would be slim to none. Lorraine insisted we try. We went to the theater and in her limited Japanese along with our friend, convinced the ticket lady that she was a huge Misora Hibari fan, came all the way from Hawai‘i and that we just had to get in to see the show! We got in! They put up folding chairs in the aisle for four of us and we enjoyed the show. It was four and a half hours long, but it was worth it. Lorraine was in seventh heaven and it made the trip just so special.”

The cover of the “With Love, From Lorraine” benefit concert to raise funds for scholarships for performing artists from Hawai‘i to further their training and pursue certifications in Okinawa.

In support of perpetuating Okinawan cultural arts, after Lorraine passed away, Art, with support from Isaac Hokama and Amy Higa, decided to start a scholarship through the Hawaii United Okinawa Association. Still today, the scholarship created in Lorraine’s memory supports those pursuing their craft by studying in Okinawa to attain certification in Okinawan cultural performing arts. In 2004, a benefit concert was held to establish the “With Love, From Lorraine” scholarship. Hawai‘i’s Okinawan performing artists and members from the Uta Matsuri program came out to support with an unforgettable performance. The scholarship has helped send many performing artists from Hawai‘i to pursue study and certifications in Okinawa. 

Life is impermanent, but we can preserve the memories of those we loved. Like Lorraine’s favorite song, “Kawa no Nagare no Youni,” we know that life is like a river flowing through seasons. As humans, we all experience life’s joys and sorrows. 


Lyrics by Yasushi Akimoto

Shirazu shirazu aruite kita

Hosoku nagai kono michi

Furikaereba haruka tooku

Furusato ga mieru

Dekoboko michi ya

Magarikunetta michi

Chizu sae nai sore mo mata jinsei

Ah-ah kawa no nagare no you ni yuruyaka ni

Ikutsu mo jidai wa sugite

Ah-ah kawa no nagare no you ni tomedo naku

Sora ga tsogare ni somaru dake

Ikiru koto wa tabi suru koto

Owari no nai kono michi

Aisuru hito soba ni tsurete

Yume sagashinagara

Ame ni furarete nukarunda michi demo

Itsuka wa mata hareru hi ga kuru kara

Ah-ah kawa no nagare no you ni odayaka ni

Kono mi wo makasete itai

Ah-ah kawa no nagare no you ni ustsuriyuku

Kisetsu yukidoke wo machinagara

Ah-ah kawa no nagare no you ni odayaka ni

Kono mi wo makasete itai

Ah-ah kawa no nagare no you ni itsumademo

Aoi seseragi wo kikinagara


I came walking on this long, narrow path without knowing it

When I turn around,

my distant hometown is visible

The uneven path twists and turns

and doesn’t even have a map

So is the road of life

Ah, like the flow of the river

the era passes by leniently

Ah, like the flow of the river

the sky is just endlessly dyed at twilight

Living and taking a journey,

an endless path

Take the person I love to my side

while searching for a dream

Even if I’m rained on and the path is muddy,

Someday the sunny day will come again

Ah, like the flow of the river

I want to calmly go with the flow

Ah, like the flow of the river

Forever while listening to the blue babbling river

Jodie Chiemi Ching is the former editor of The Hawai‘i Herald and currently works as a protocol and community affairs specialist for the Governor of the State of Hawai‘i. She was also a recipient of the “With Love From Lorraine” scholarship which enabled her to obtain a Yūshūsho certification in the Afuso-style of uta-sanshin. 


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