MONBUKAGAKUSHO JAPANESE STUDIES STUDENT SCHOLARSHIP AWARD

On Thursday, Aug. 30, the Consulate General of Japan held an awards presentation ceremony of the 2022 Monbukagakusho MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) Japanese Studies Student Scholarship (Nihongo Nihonbunka Kenshuu Ryuugakusei). Four students from the United States were selected by the embassy to receive the prestigious scholarship, including two undergraduate students from the University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa, Liv Peralta and Kylie Higashionna. 

Consul General of Japan Yukata Aoki awarded Peralta and Higashionna at his official residence. Peralta and Higashionna will study Japanese language and culture at Keio University in Tökyö from October 2022 through July 2023. 

KENNEDY THEATRE PROUDLY PRESENTS “CHINEE, JAPANEE, ALL MIX UP”

Cast of “Chinee, Japanee, All Mix Up.” Clockwise from center front: Darryl Soriano, Angeline Han, Miki Yamamoto, Isabella O’Keefe, Reiko Ho (director), Elizabeth Ung. (Photo by Christine Lamborn)

The University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa’s department of theater opens its season with “Chinee, Japanee, All Mix up,” led and directed by Reiko Ho and will be performed in-person from Sept. 21-25 at the Earle Ernst Lab Theatre. 

Guest director Ho is the artistic associate for the Honolulu Theatre for Youth and part of the Emmy-award winning team for the TV show “The HI Way.” Ho is an accomplished theater artist and University of Hawai‘i at Mänoa alumna who has spent her decades-long career showcasing original plays by Hawai‘i artists and creating space for local, Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander representation. 

With the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes and the continuing need for representation, Ho led student devisers of this theater project on a deep dive into Asian American history to create a multimedia theater performance. Five students worked with Ho to create the production, raising subjects like the Chinese Exclusion Act, internment camps in World War II and discussing memories of cast members’ great-grandparents working in Hawai‘i plantation fields. Cast members discovered they shared common traditions regardless of where they were raised and noted that some experiences were not always pleasant to uncover.

“It is more important than ever to give voice and representation to our Asian, mixed Asian and Asian American communities,” said Ho. “It is my fervent belief that we must include young people in these important conversations and empower them to grapple with our collective past and present as Asians in America. This show is inspired by that belief.” 

The play’s title is borrowed for a local playground rhyme and is based on collective personal experiences from the student cast, headline news articles and past events, exploring adult themes and includes references to racism and racial slurs. The show poses the question, “What does it mean to be Asian in 2022?”

The play features poems from noted local playwright (and Hawai‘i Herald contributor) Lee Tonouchi, also known as “da Pidgin Guerilla” in addition to original monologues, scenes and various performance pieces by the student performers. 

“Like a good Asian dish,” said Ho about the show, “it is a little salty, a little sweet, a little sour, a little bitter and very savory.”

“Chinee, Japanee, All Mix Up” will be performed from Sept. 2-24 at 7:30 p.m. and September 25 at 2 p.m. Tickets range from $8-$18. For more information about the show and to purchase tickets online, please visit: manoa.hawaii.edu/liveonstage/allmixup. For ticketing or accessibility questions, please email the box office at ktbox@hawaii.edu or call (808) 956-7655.

MICRONESIAN WOMEN THROUGH THE LENS OF TAKEUCHI

The Downtown Art Center – also known as DAC – is a hidden treasure for those yet to discover it at 1041 Nu‘uanu Avenue in the heart of downtown Honolulu where the central business district meets Chinatown. The spacious second-floor exhibition gallery features diverse works of art by local artists using a variety of media and techniques.

One recent exhibit was paired with the publication of a large format 12”x12” coffee table book called, “Courage Poured Into My Heart: Stories of Grief, Hope, and Love,” which includes stories by members of the local art community who have used art “to help them overcome the grief of losing a loved one,” according to pre-publication notes. The book’s editorial team was headed by Cathy Cruz-George and Floyd K. Takeuchi and is available for purchase at DAC.

Takeuchi is also one of three featured photographers in DAC’s “Inner Gallery Exhibition” called, “Portraits in Monochrome: Fine Art Portraiture Photography in Black and White,” which runs from Sept. 1 to Oct. 30. The other two photographers in the exhibit are Ed Greevy and PF Bentley. Greevy’s collection of photographs is called, “Makua,” and captures the last days of a Hawaiian settlement at O‘ahu’s Makua Beach in the early 1990s. Bentley’s photographs are large-size portraits of his friends and neighbors on Moloka‘i, where he has lived for the past 13 years.

Takeuchi’s collection of photographs is titled, “The Micronesians.” Takeuchi is an American of Japanese ancestry who was born and raised on Majuro Atoll in the Marshall Islands. The son of parents who served in the U.S. administration of the Micronesia region from 1953 to 1982, Takeuchi has spent much of his adult life photographing and writing about Micronesia.

In “The Micronesians” exhibit, full-body studio portraits of nine Micronesian women of accomplishment and distinction who live in Hawai‘i fill an entire wall of the Inner Gallery. Their striking poses exude a mixture of dignified confidence, cultural pride and island warmth. Each woman’s portrait is accompanied by a brief written biography, stating her connection with Micronesia and something about her life now.

One portrait is of Dr. Nicole Hokulani Yamase, a marine biologist, who was born in Pohnpei in the Federated States of Micronesia and spent parts of her childhood in Palau, Saipan and Chuuk. According to her bio, in March 2021 “she became the first Pacific Islander, second youngest person and fourth woman to reach the world’s deepest part of the ocean, the Challenger Deep,” which is located at the southern end of the Mariana Trench within the Federated States of Micronesia’s territorial waters.

The other Micronesian women in the collection – Shanty Asher, Carol Ann Carl, Kimberly Graham, Mary Therese Perez Hattori, Jocelyn “Josie” Howard, Arsima Muller, Isabela Silk, and Jacqueline “Jacque” Keringilianged Tellei – have achieved success in different walks of life, but their successes are similarly noteworthy and their varied contributions to society are profound. They are all also photographed wearing the so-called “Micronesian skirt,” a fabric piece of clothing that is often associated with Micronesian women in Hawai‘i, and which Takeuchi hopes will lead viewers to reflect upon their own assumptions and prejudices about members of the Micronesian community. 

Writer-photographer Floyd K. Takeuchi’s exhibit, “The Micronesians,” runs until October 30 at the Downtown Art Center. (Photo by Kevin Y. Kawamoto)

Micronesians – a broad term that includes people from the Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, Marshall Islands, Guam and the Northern Marianas – have encountered discrimination in Hawai‘i as well as a complex history within Oceania. Having grown up in the region, Takeuchi hopes that this exhibit will encourage people to move beyond negative stereotypes and learn more about the “beautiful islands and their rich cultures” that make up Micronesia.

In a printed publication connected to the exhibit, Takeuchi writes, “I also don’t delude myself into thinking that I am Micronesian. But I do have close friends scattered across the region, friends who have made me feel welcome in their homes, on their boats, and on their islands. If there is a place that calls to me, it is those islands.”

The Downtown Art Center is located at 1041 Nu‘uanu Ave., 2nd floor, and is open from Tuesday to Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and every first Friday of the month from 5:30 to 8 p.m. The DAC website can be visited downtownarthi.org. 

-Written by Kevin Kawamoto

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