Kanegusuku Club members Lynda Iraha; Harriet, David, Stacy and Jennifer Kihara; Masuo and Ed Kino; Henry Nagamine; Masaru Oshiro and Toshi Shimabukuro assisted the vendors and food booth, and provided help wherever it was needed at the Winter Craft Fair on Nov. 23, from 6 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

Kanegusuku members Stella and Albert Kaneshiro’s family photos from the 1930s to 1950s were returned to Stella after being found in a muddy field in Waipahu. Jim Knowles, who found the photos in a then-undeveloped area of Crestview, took care of them and returned them to the family on Oct. 30, eight years after they were lost. The bag, which contained dozens of family pictures, including photos of twin uncles who fought and returned safely from World War II, were mixed with items that the family had planned to donate to charity and other items they planned to toss out. The photos were in good shape, affected only by the passage of time. They were recognized by eight people after a story on the photos was published in the Honolulu Advertiser. The return of the photos prompted family members to organize a reunion. They invited Knowles and his family to be honored guests at their celebration.

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HUI MAKAALA . . . by Karen Shishido

Upon entering the Hibiscus Ballroom at the Ala Moana Hotel on Jan. 17, guests were greeted by the beautiful sounds of the group, Backyard Pa‘ina, featuring lead singer Ian Shiroma, backed up by Darren Jitchaku, Terrance Nakamatsu and Trevor Ishihara. They all claim to be of Okinawan heritage, but you would never know that by their fresh falsetto Hawaiian voices.

Council Chair Jon Yoshimura stepped in at the last minute to serve as master of ceremonies until the arrival of David Arakawa. Former Senator Patsy Young delivered the invocation so dinner could be started. Backyard Pa‘ina entertained throughout the dinner.

Guests from HUOA were well-represented: Year 2000 President Dr. Albert Miyasato, 2001 President Jimmy Iha, President-elect Gladys Tokunaga-Asao and vice presidents Keith Kaneshiro, Karen Shishido and George Tamashiro.

Jimmy Iha gave his New Year’s greetings to Hui Makaala from HUOA. He recalled that his good friend, Aki Kakazu, had received one of the first four-year scholarship grants from Hui Makaala, which at the time, was only $50 per semester. Over the years, Hui Makaala has awarded hundreds of scholarship grants to deserving high school students. Jimmy also recalled the 1940s and ’50s when Hui Makaala’s Softball League was the biggest in the world, with over 50 teams playing at Ala Moana Park. Hui Makaala has a long history of many good things, he said.

Lloyd Higa was recognized as Hui Makaala’s Year 2000 “Uchinanchu of the Year” for having served as its president for 1998 and 1999. Lloyd is so deserving of this award and we are all so proud of him!

The Honorable Jon Yoshimura installed the 2001 officers in his own precious style:

President: Michele Itomura Nitta
President-elect: Ryan Okunaga
1st vice president: Reid Yamashiro
2nd vice president: Lisa Shishido
Recording secretary: Lisa Tobara
Corresponding secretary: Sharon Ige
Treasurer: Alton Higa
Assistant treasurer: Eric Nitta

Serving on Hui Makaala’s Board of Directors will be Patrick Arakaki, Lloyd Higa, Mike Ito, Al Kakazu, Robert Kamemoto and Pam Tamashiro. Mike Ito gave his farewell message while Michelle Itomura Nitta delivered her President’s Message. Emcee David Arakawa kept everyone in stitches with his overflowing humor.

Grant “Sandaa” Murata Sensei joined his student, Chris Cerna, in playing two Okinawan numbers. Chris is an accomplished musician who plays many instruments, including the samisen, and all by ear. Chris was 18 months old when he became blind. Despite that, he began playing the piano when he was 5, without any formal training.

Chris was born in Cebu in the Philippines and was brought to Hawaii by the Aloha Medical Mission in 1991. The mission provided Chris with reconstructive surgery and hydroxypatite implants, which are artificial eyes. He enjoys composing his own music and has written a song entitled, “She’s My Eyes,” in honor of his mom, Carmen. We were honored to have Chris Cerna play for us.

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TAMAGUSUKU CLUB . . . by Nobuo Takeno

Tamagusuku Club will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of its founding in the year 2003. To commemorate the event, a committee has been formed to work on publishing a booklet. The committee is asking all Tamagusuku Club members and others whose family roots are in Tamagusuku Village to submit information on their family to the committee. Please contact one of the following Tamagusuku Club members to request that a family information data collection form be sent to you: Takashi Tsuhako ( 247-4489), June Arakawa (845-0194), or Nobuo Takeno (247-6418).

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HUI OKINAWA . . . by Amy Shiroma

Hui Okinawa held its annual shinnen enkai and Keirokai (honoring of those 80 and older) on Feb. 4 at Aunty Sally’s Luau House. Honored were 138 keirosha. An extra special honoree was Mr. Matsu Miyahira, the oldest of the keirosha. His daughter, Myrtle Zukeran, walked with him up to the stage where he was presented a “Centenarian Certificate” by Andy Levin, executive assistant to Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim. A congratulatory message from Gov. Ben Cayetano was read by his Hilo liaison, Al Castro.

Lt. Gov. Mazie Hirono congratulated the honorees and emphasized the importance of passing on the values learned from our grandparents to the younger generation. Lt. Gov. Hirono also installed Hui Okinawa’s 2001 officers: Dorothy Taira, President; Carolyn Oki, 1st vice president; Clifford Kaneshiro, 2nd vice president; Roy Hokama, 3rd vice president; Lynn Namihira, secretary and Alben Namihira, treasurer.

Congratulatory messages were also offered by HUOA President James Iha; Dexter Teruya, chairman of the HUOA’s Okinawan Centennial Celebration Committee and a former HUOA president; Hawaii County Council Chair James Arakaki; and koreisha Masaichi Chinen and Hiroshi Yafuso. Hui Okinawa President Dorothy Taira reviewed the past year’s events and activities.

The entertainment was organized by Kathy Okunami and consisted of Okinawan dances, hula and karaoke numbers. A special feature was koto music by Jane Kaneshiro Sensei of Honolulu and her students, who performed with our own Big Island samisen and koto groups. The shinnen enkai was co-chaired by Margaret Torigoe and Ruby Maekawa, and also featured door prizes, with the grand prize a round-trip ticket from Hawaiian Air.

Centenarian Matsu Miyahira holds on to the arm of his daughter, Myrtle Zukeran, at Hui Okinawa’s recent shinnen enkai. Behind them is Hui Okinawa President Dorothy Taira. (Photo courtesy of Amy Shiroma)

Last month, Hui Okinawa’s cultural committee launched an eisa project that will bring Grant “Sandaa” Murata Sensei to Hilo to teach club members and others interested a form of eisa that is popular on Oahu and Kauai. The project is in keeping with Hui Okinawa’s goals of promoting and preserving Okinawan culture. The eisa style is performed by Young Okinawans of Hawaii at various bon dances.

The classes, which are free, are held on the second and third Monday of each month, from 7 to 10 p.m. at Nani Mau Gardens (421 Makalika St.). The project is being chaired by cultural committee chair Reynold Miyashiro. The participants will learn the hand motions and how to beat the drums. They will then go out into the community and teach the dances to the public, primarily school-age students. For more information on the classes, call Reynold Miyashiro at 959-9295.

The following is a tentative schedule of Hui Okinawa’s events and activities for 2001.

• March 14-16: HUOA Okinawan student exchange (March 15 potluck dinner at Wailoa State Park is being chaired by Jan Nakahara)
• May (date to be announced): Grad’s Nite (chair: Nancy Nakaishi)
• July 4: Picnic/Eisa at Mooheau Park (chairs: Milton Yafuso and Reynold Miyashiro)
• Aug. 18: Summer Festival at Hilo Hongwanji Multi-purpose Hall (chair: Carolyn Oki)
• Nov. 11: Bonen Kai at Wailoa State Park

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Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai . . . by Linda Kiyabu

Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai honored nine members who reached their 80th birthday at our Dec. 2 Bonen Kai. Honored as Saiko Reisha were: Bert Kayona, Yeikichi Goya, Takeo Higa, Yoshiko Ishikawa, Matsue Kaneshiro, Marion Kohatsu, Yasuo Nagamine, Zenkichi Shimabuku and Shizue Yonamine.

Those attending the event were treated to wonderful performances by June Konno Sensei’s Okinawan dance group, Hirotada Toyama Sensei’s samisen players, Fumiko Cup Choy Sensei’s Maui Paranku Club and Darren Knno Sensei’s Maui Okinawa Taiko group. Rounding out the entertainment program were karaoke numbers by Sue Nakaza, Richard Oya, Lillian Nakao, Vicky Akamine and Nancy Tamayose.

The program was emceed by Bob Yonahara and included the installation of MOKK’s 2001 officers by HUOA 2000 President Albert Miyasato. Serving MOKK in 2001 will be: Alan Arakawa, President; Clarence Uehara, 1st vice president; Todd Hondo, 2nd vice president; Bob Yonahara, 3rd vice president; Kay Nishibayashi, recording secretary; Nancy Kiyabu, Japanese corresponding secretary; Jan Matsushita, English corresponding secretary; Colleen Takamura, treasurer; Mark Miyahira, assistant treasurer; Koki Tamashiro, historian; and Wendy Tamashiro, Ed Ige, Jr., Toshio Shiroma and Ty Yoshimi, auditors.

A busy year lies ahead for Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai members. The following is a list of events and activities for the year and their dates, a few of which are tentative.

• March 4: Shinnen-enkai at the Maui Okinawa Cultural Center (co-chairs: Helen Kawahara and Helen Tamashiro)
• June 9: Maui Okinawan Festival at the Paia Rinzai Zen Mission (co-chairs: Michael Hondo and Koki Tamashiro)
• Aug. 5 (tentative): Annual picnic at Baldwin Park (co-chairs: Jan Matsushita and Kay Nishibayashi)
• Aug. 18: Paia Rinzai Zen Obon Concession Fundraiser (co-chairs: Clarence Uehara and Bob Yonahara)
• Dec. 1: Maui Okinawa Kenjin Kai Bonen Kai (co-chairs: Todd Hondo and Linda Kiyabu)