Okinawan Festival


Year Started November 1946
Original Officers David Miyashiro, president; Hideo Nakasone, James S. Yagi, vice presidents; Amy T. Nakasone, Kotoku Miyashiro, secretaries; Sukemori Chinen, treasurer.
Past President David Miyashiro (1946, 1949)
Kiyotsugu Oshiro (1950)
Isamu Kaneshiro (1951)
Hideo Nakasone (1952)
Yasuo Kuwaye (1953)
Hiroshi Yafuso (1954)
Kotoku Miyashiro (1955)
Herbert Matayoshi (1956, 1974)
Ronald Miyasato (1957)
Jay Kaneshiro (1958)
Masao Uchima (1959)
Isamu "Pondus" Hokama (1960- 67)
Chiso Jitchaku (1968-69)
Bruce Takamine (1970-71)
Sam Nuha (1972-73)
Harry Urasaki (1975-76)
Shizuko Akamine (1977-78)
Ronald Miyashiro (1979)
Nancy Nakaishi (1979-80)

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, contined 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 cullture. 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 he 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, University of Hawaii at Manoa, who spoke on the history and culture of Okinawa, and Dr. Ricardo Trimillos, professor of music, 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, 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.


Holiday 2014
Fall 2014
Summer 2014
Spring 2014
Winter 2013
Fall 2013
Spring/Early Summer 2013
April 2012
January 2012
October 2011
April 2010
January 2010
October 2009

January 2009
October 2008
July 2008
July 2008 Haari Race Insert
April 2008
January 2008
October 2007
July 2007
April 2007
January 2007
2007 Officers 2007

2014 Shinnen Enkai & Keirokai
Tour to Nago Haari Boat Race 2009
2007 Year of the Boar
January 2008
2007 Grandparents Day
2007 Picnic
Children's Day Camp

Graduation Party 2007
Kobudo Taiko Group tops at Merrie Monarch
Exchange Students - March 15, 2007
Girls Day - March 3, 2007
Shinnen Enkai and Keirokai - January 28, 2007
Leadership Workshop - January 20, 2007

History written by Ms. Alma Yogi and Mr. Isamu "Ham" Kaneshiro

Hui Okinawa (or Hui Hanalike as it was originally named) was established as a direct cause of World War II. As part of the United States' military strategy, the US launched the Battle of Okinawa. The islands of Okinawa were needed by the Allied Forces to invade and vanquish the Japanese Empire. More than 200,000 people had been killed and Okinawa was devastated. Important documents, priceless cultural treasurers, homes and farmlands were ravaged and destroyed after months of bombings and air raids. In late 1945 the U.S. Army requested that the people of Hawaii help clothe and feed the people of war-torn Okinawa. The Uchinanchus of Hawaii responded generously - tons of clothing and canned goods, school supplies, textbooks, money livestock, vegetable and flower seeds were collected and sent to their ancestral homeland.

This mass effort was the beginning of Hui Okinawa. As the niseis of the Big Island worked to collect items for Okinawa, they realized that an organization was needed. In 1946, a nucleus of nisei Uchinanchus met and formally formed Hui Hanalike. The Rev. Stephen Desha of Haili Church suggested the name Hui (Group) Hana (Work) and Like(together) - a group of Okinawans to work together for the betterment of all Uchinanchus on the Big Island and to preserve and perpetuate the Okinawan culture.

In November of 1946, the first set of officers were elected and installed. They held fundraisers and gave scholarships to high school graduates of Okinawan ancestry. In the 1970s and 1980s the club sponsored performances of Okinawan music and dance, held club picnics, shinnen enkai, and keirokais. Lectures on Okinawan culture were also sponsored.

The club's name was changed to Hui Okinawa in the 1980s. Today, our membership includes about 500 member families. Hui Okinawa still gives scholarships to outstanding high school and university students. Keirokai are still held to honor our elderly members. Classes on Okinawan dance, taiko, sanshin, koto, and cooking have been held for interested club members.

The club has from its beginning to now fulfilled its goals of honoring its ancestors, perpetuating its culture and working with the community for the betterment of Hilo's multi-ethnic population.