HONOLULU FUKUSHIMA KENJIN KAI VISITS FUKUSHIMA
On Tuesday, April 11 through Friday, April 21, Honolulu Fukushima Kenjin Kai members visited Furusato, Fukushima, then went on to visit the prefectures of Miyagi and Iwate. This was Kenjin Kai’s eighth tour, with the last tour in 2019.
In Fukushima, the members were warmly welcomed during a courtesy visit to Governor Masao Uchibori and his International Affairs Division (IAD) staff. They presented gifts from Hawai‘i to show the Kenjin Kai’s appreciation as well as to extend invitations to the Kenjin Kai’s 100th Anniversary Celebration, which will be held on Sunday, Oct. 29, at the Ala Moana Hotel’s Hibiscus Room. Governor Uchibori vowed to reunite, saying, “Let’s move forward toward the future by using this exchange as our mutual strength.” As a farewell gift, members performed the Hawaii Fukushima Ondo for the governor.
During the visit, the governor and staff were especially interested in two senior members who made the trip — Alice Suma (94 years old) and Jean Yuhara, (89 years old). Also, families of Suma and Charlene Kiakona-Cabal were able to find their long-lost relatives with the assistance of Marian Moriguchi, the Kenjin Kai’s Fukushima Liaison, and Shigeru Konno, friend in Fukushima. Suma, along with her eldest daughter, Alma Chu, was able to visit her parents’ hometown of Nihonmatsu City and met their relatives for the first time, while Kiakona-Cabal visited the same Nihonmatsu City, only to find that the location of both families was very close.
A visit was also made to the Matsuda Residence, a national cultural property in Kunimi owned by Hanayagi Sariju-sensei (Akiko Matsuda), a classical Japanese dance instructor, who offered words of welcome to the Kenjin Kai members. The celebration, attended by about 160 persons, included the Kunimi community, members’ relatives, friends of Fukushima, and Sensei’s students. Everyone joined in on Fukushima and Hawaii’s Fukushima Ondo bon dances in the backyard. The celebration continued with partaking of two-kinds of imoni (miso- and shoyu-flavored vegetable soups), beef, venison and boar meat barbecue, oshinko (pickled vegetables) and other delicious foods and sake from various areas of Fukushima Prefecture. The program ended with the enthusiastic and energetic dancing of classical and modern dance numbers by Sensei’s young students of The Traditional Culture Mirai Association.
Although the time spent in Fukushima was short, the members were able to spend time with relatives and enjoy sightseeing in the beautiful prefecture.
In Miyagi Prefecture, the group went to Matsushima, grilled and ate kamaboko, visited Zuigangi Temple and the Ishinomaki Mangattan Museum (Kamen Rider). In Iwate Prefecture, the group visited Chusonji Temple and the Iwate Tsunami Memorial, which gave the travelers an insight of what the people experienced on March 11, 2011, during the Great East Tohoku Disaster. At the Tono Furusato Village, members made mochi dumplings, which were boiled and eaten. A relaxing train ride along the coastline on the Sanriku Rias Line took the group from Kamaishi to Miyako, where they were able to see sights that included revitalization efforts made after the disaster.
Eating Wanko soba at a local restaurant was fun and fulfilling — after eating a mouthful of soba in a bowl, the waitress continues to refill your bowl. At the end, the winner was Lance Suzuki who ate 51 bowls of soba. The group then visited Asabiraki Shuzo Sake Brewery and tasted the top sakes in the Tohoku area. At the kokeshi doll painting activity, members showed their hidden artistic talent.
Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate all have beautiful places to visit, away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities. Good food, sake, shopping, historical sites, hands-on crafts activities, onsen, and the people all helped to create cherished and lasting memories for all.
-By Sadie Watanabe
SENJU KAI TEACHER CERTIFICATES IN RYUKYU DANCE
On Thursday, May 13, a teaching certificate ceremony for Tamagusuku Ryu Senju Kai was held in Okinawa. There were a total of 15 kyoshi (teachers) and eight shihan (master teachers) from Okinawa, Osaka, Nagoya, Hawai‘i and Brazil. From Hawai‘i, two students: Mina Tamashiro and Eric Kobayashi obtained the kyoshi menkyo (teaching certificates).
Tamashiro and Kobayashi are the first students from Senju Kai Hawaii who have traveled to Okinawa to take the konkuru or dance contest and earned all three levels of certification [Shinjin-sho (Newcomer’s Award), Yuushuu-Sho (Award of Excellence) and Saiko-sho (Highest Award)], helped with daigeiko (training to teach and earn the teaching certificate). Iemoto, Grandmaster Yoshiko Tanita and Grandmaster Mieko Kinjo were overjoyed and congratulated all the new teachers for their achievement.
Tamashiro and Kobayashi’s commitment to the perpetuation and preservation of our culture is evident in their continued advancement in Ryukyuan Dance. Being a sensei is like being a parent who nurtures students to become refined teachers and wishing for their continued growth. I look forward to the opening of their own dojo and nurturing their deshi (students) – my mago-deshi (descendant student). Okage sama de to all – family, friends and the community. I humbly ask for your continued support for our new sensei. Yutashiku unigee sabira. Kahuushi, With sincere appreciation – Frances Nakachi Kuba.
Impression by Mina Tamashiro:
I have been with Senjukai Hawaii Frances Nakachi Ryubu Dojo for approximately 21 years! When I joined, I did not imagine that I would be taking lessons this long and becoming a teacher. Sensei encouraged me to pursue konkuru, in Okinawa. I completed the whole process in a seven-years span. Familiarizing myself with the lyrics and music was challenging. There were nights when I listened to the music and asked myself, “Why am I doing this?” But after feeling the amount of dedication and support that Sensei provided me, I realized this experience will help me grow not only as a dancer but also as a person. Through the konkuru training, I not only learned the dance movements but the etiquette, the culture and the importance of passing down this living culture. With each accomplishment, I gained confidence in dancing and deepened my commitment to perpetuate the culture.
I am honored and privileged to receive my kyoshi menkyo this May with my peers. My commitment is to spread the teachings of Senju Kai and perpetuate and preserve our Okinawan culture. I am grateful for the support from Frances Sensei, my family and friends and the community.
Impression by Eric Kobayashi
It always amazes me how there’s a sense of family amongst the Senju Kai members. Maybe it’s the kindness and hospitality that everyone shows toward us – the ones who traveled over 4,000 miles. Or maybe it’s the Okinawan spirit and heart shining through. More likely it’s our love for Okinawan dance and our shared commitment to the preservation and perpetuation of this beautiful art. It is a turning point in my life that we have reached this milestone and realizing that we will need to pave the way to open our own branches and begin teaching our own students.
It was also a humbling experience, to be in the presence of many sensei, the masters of Okinawan dance. There is an immense feeling of humility as they shower us with support, words of encouragement and love. Earning my teaching license was the culmination of countless hours of practice and a deep commitment from myself and my sensei, Frances Nakachi. As an educator, I understand that for a student to succeed, it takes dedication and hard work from the student, and unwavering care and support from a skilled teacher. As hard as I worked for this, I know Frances Sensei worked twice as hard. And for this, I am deeply grateful.
While many may view an event like this as graduating, I understand that this is actually the beginning. There is so much more to learn, to master, and most important, to share. I returned to Hawai‘i with a deeper understanding of the purpose of this certification process and a ceremony such as this – to cultivate and recognize the next generation of skilled Okinawan dance practitioners, in the hopes that this art may be preserved for future generations. I have a renewed sense of purpose as a licensed teacher of Okinawan dance and a stronger devotion to help it thrive in Hawai‘i.