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Hui Okinawa

Notes by Mrs. Shizuko Akamine, Saburo Higa, and David Miyashiro: The activities of the Okinawan community on the island of Hawaii were low-keyed until the clothing drive for Okinawa’s postwar relief. Then after receiving much encouragement from the Reverend Masao Yamada of the Holy Cross Church, Hui Hanalike was formed in 1946, primarily as a nisei Okinawan club. In 1960 a tsunami struck the island. Nearly all the club records kept in the basement of the Yafuso Appliance store on Ponahawai Street were destroyed. After the tsunami, the club became relatively inactive as the need for reconstruction of the many businesses destroyed in the tsunami received top priority. During the period of inactivity on the part of Hui Hanalike, the issei group, the Hawaii Shima Okinawa Kenjinkai, continued the annual shinnen enkai (New Year’s parties). In 1968, eight years later, Hui Hanalike was reactivated. The purposes were to bridge the gap between the issei and the nisei and to perpetuate the Okinawan culture. Hui Hanalike decided to sponsor the annual shinnen enkai as well as the keirokai (party to honor the elders) by combining these events with the installation of its officers.

Presently, many of the officers are sansei as the nisei are reaching retirement age. The emphasis of the club’s early years was on the scholarship program and benefit dances were held to build the scholarship fund. Sine 1968 the primary activity has been the perpetuation and promotion of Okinawan culture. Because educational funds from the government had been generally available to students, rather than awarding scholarships to individuals, the club decided to use the scholarship fund to sponsor public lectures on Okinawan history and culture. Speakers have included R. Mitsugu Sakihara, associate professor of history, the University of Hawaii at Manoa, who spoke on the history and culture of Okinawa, and Dr. Ricardo Trimillos, professor of music, the University of Hawaii at Mano, who spoke on Okinawan music. In 1969 an Okinawan dance group was organized with Taro Urasaki and his students serving as instructors. The group practiced weekly for four years until interest finally waned. Later, a new interest in minyo (folk songs) and shamisen led to the formation of a minyo group. The current instructor of the group is Jiro Arakaki. In 1978 Hui Hanalike changed its name to Hui Okinawa. Recently, the club has been actively introducing the Okinawan culture to members of other ethnic groups as well as descendants of Okinawan immigrants. The club has sponsored Okinawan music and dance programs at various community events, including the Honokaa Macadamia Nut Festival. The club has also sponsored Okinawan bon dances, which have been well attended by non-Okinawans. Many non-Okinawans even attend the shinnen enkai because they enjoy the cultural show. It is estimated that non- Okinawans make up 25 percent of those who participate in the various events sponsored by Hui Okinawa.

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