“Wachimugukuru Utati Katayabira: Sharing My Heart Through Song”

“I want to share with people why I fell in love with Okinawan music and dance, show the depth and emotion behind these songs from hundreds of years ago, and why the meanings behind these songs are beautiful and relevant, even today,” said Kenton Odo, master of the Afuso style of uta-sanshin.

The solo concert entitled “Wachimugukuru Utati Katayabira: Sharing My Heart Through Song” was supposed to be held in the summer of 2020, but was postponed after the COVID-19 pandemic caused performing artists around the world to shut down live performances. Now, with the planet reopening, we can’t help but think about how Okinawans came out of their dark times after World War II and were reunited with friends and families who survived.

Master Kenton Odo invites you to celebrate Okinawan music in Hawai‘i and gather for what will surely be filled with music, aloha and a lot of “it’s-good-to-see-yous,” “long-time-no-sees.” It will be held on Saturday, July 9 at 2 p.m. at the Pearl City Cultural Center.

In the world of classical Ryukyuan performing arts, an artist’s solo recital is a rite of passage when his mentor(s) express that a student has achieved a level of mastership. Odo’s signature vocals and musicianship express the powerful and poetic Afuso style passed down over 400 years ago.

“Wachimugukuru Utati Katayabira” is a story of a local boy’s soulful journey and his love for classical Okinawan music. The concert will feature an ensemble of master musicians and dancers from Hawai’i and abroad. Another special treat includes a performance by the Odo Family.

Odo hopes people in Hawai‘i will gain a deeper appreciation for koten ongaku (classical music) as they learn the meaning of the songs and his personal reflections on what they mean to him. These centuries-old poems and melodies have a profound influence on Odo’s life journey and connection to his Okinawan roots. Odo promises his performance will be a new experience through “edutainment,” which will both educate and entertain the audience.

Born and raised in Hawai‘i, Odo is of Japanese and Okinawan descent. For 30 years, he has been training under National Living Treasure of Japan, Grand Master Choichi Terukina of Okinawa and Master Grant Murata of Hawai‘i. He received his Saikosho (top-level certification exam) for classical uta-sanshin in 2007, placing first. He, along with June Nakama and Calvin Nakama, was the first foreigner to pass Saikosho for classical uta-sanshin. Odo was awarded his Shihan (masters) certificate for uta-sanshin in 2010 and Shihan certificate for kuucho (Okinawan fiddle) in 2020.

Ticket information:

  • $50 General Admission only, no assigned seating. Includes all credit card/online fees.
  • Purchase online: afusochoichikaiusa.com. Previously purchased tickets are still valid.
  • Event organizers reserve the right to impose COVID-19 safety protocols as they see fit.

The safety of concert attendees and performers is of the utmost importance. Event organizers reserve the right to impose COVID-19 safety protocols as they see fit. All applicable government mandates in place at the time of the concert will be followed.


The Japanese garden at Lili‘uokalani Park in Hilo was selected as the Overseas Japanese Garden Restoration Project sponsored by the Government of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. The MILT program has been supporting the restoration of Japanese gardens around the world since 2009, to showcase Japanese culture and help promote tourism to Japan and the development of landscaping and greening technology. 

The restoration was initially scheduled to take place in 2020 but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. From Friday, June 3 to Tuesday, June 7, Hiroshi Terashita, Yasumasa Imada, Takahiro Senuma and Taiki Saito, four landscape architects from Japan, worked on the restoration. 

Donated by Queen Lili‘uokalani, the park opened in Hilo in 1919. The Japanese garden was constructed between 1917 and 1919 and features a pine tree planted by Hitachinomiya Imperial Prince Mashito, the “Matsunami An” tea ceremony tea house donated by Dr. Sen Genshitsu, Daisosho (former Urasenke Grand Master) of the Japanese tea ceremony as well as a collection of gifts from 14 Japanese prefectures, including Okinawa and Hiroshima to commemorate the 100th anniversary of immigration to Hawai‘i.

In 1960, a tsunami washed mud into the pond. Although many organizations and volunteers worked to restore the pond and remove the mud, it was still damaged in many places. The garden’s proximity to the ocean made it necessary to work only during low tide so as to not affect the restoration work. 


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here