Lynne Yoshiko Nakasone-Sensei, director and grand master of Hooge Ryu Hana Nuuzi no Kai Nakasone Dance Academy, was bestowed The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Rays, for her contributions to the perpetuation of Okinawan culture in Hawai‘i. The award is one of the highest honors a Japanese citizen or non-citizen can receive from the Emperor of Japan.
Nakasone-Sensei and her husband Clarence decided to attend the formal presentation ceremony at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Tökyö, where Nobuo Kishi, vice minister of foreign affairs, presented her the imperial decoration. The certificate was made in her birth name, Yoshiko Takahara.
The Nakasones and the other awardees were then driven to the Imperial Palace, where they were formally, and personally, congratulated by Emperor Akihito. Sensei said she told the emperor that she had come from Hawai‘i and that he smiled and asked whether everyone in Hawai‘i was well. She described her conversation as “a great honor and one of the most moving moments in her life.”
Nakasone-Sensei met Emperor Akihito — then Crown Prince Akihito — on one other occasion, in 1960, during his honeymoon in Hawai‘i, when she performed a traditional Okinawan dance for Akihito and his new bride Michiko.
Nakasone-Sensei said that receiving two great cultural honors — one from her native country, Japan, and the other from her adopted country, the United States — has reinforced her desire to further perpetuate cultural exchange between the two countries.
In September 2012, with the late U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye by her side, Nakasone-Sensei was presented a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She and her family and an entourage of Okinawan musicians traveled to Washington, D.C., to accept the award in person and to perform with her fellow National Heritage fellows.
Yoshiko Nakasone was born in Okinawa and settled in Hawai‘i after marrying her husband, a Hawai‘i-born kibei-nisei. In 1956, she established her dance school and began teaching traditional Okinawan dance. Sensei’s recognition is the result of her ongoing efforts to preserve and perpetuate the art of Ryukyuan dance, while also serving as a cultural ambassador between the U.S. and Japan.
Also presented an imperial decoration in the spring was Dennis Teranishi, president and CEO of the Pacific International Center for High Technology Research. Teranishi was previously vice chairman and CEO of Hawaiian Host, Inc. He was awarded The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette for his contributions to the promotion of mutual understanding and friendly relations between Japan and the U.S. through economic and technological exchanges. Teranishi, who is also a member of the Board of Councilors of the U.S.-Japan Council, accepted his decoration at the Japanese Consulate in Honolulu.