“LooChoo Identity” Sports Bag Available “琉球アイデンティティ”スポーツバクパク






Gusuuyo Chuuganabira!

Ukwanshin now has available  our “Identity” ” sports bags.  :LooChoo: is the Okinawan pronunciation for Ryukyu, which is the name of our kingdom and inclusive of all islands from Amami to Yonaguni.  The kanji characters going down reads “LooChoo nu Kwa” (child/descendant of Ryukyu).  In the highlighted area we have the words in English and Okinawan, “Protect Our Language, Protect Our Culture, Protect Our Land, Protect Our Life.”

As we look to further our mission and not only help those here in Hawai`i to have a deeper understanding of our roots, we also commit ourselves to help Okinawa and take on the responsibility to carry on our traditions, learn and educate.

The bags are for a $7 donation or more each, and have free shipping within the US.  You can contact us via our email at ukwanshinkabudan@gmail.com, or send your donation through our secued paypal donation link in the sidebar.  If you wish to send a check, please make it payable to Ukwanshin Kabudan, and mail to PO Box 892725 Mililani, Hawaii 96789.  Please write “LooChoo bag” and make sure your mailing address is included and correct zip codes.

Yutasarugutu Unigeesabira!

OFF TO YAEYAMA 八重山んかい行ちゅん

1972441_845099572173491_1858730747_nO-RI TO-RI!Our third day in Okinawa had us flying out to the Yaeyama Islands of Ishigaki and Taketomi.  These beautiful southern islands of the Ryukyu chain holds some of the worlds most beautiful beaches and traditional images.  They love their culture and it shows in the surrounding and its people.

We landed at the new Ishigaki International Airpot and toured the island, focusing on the minsa a textiles of Okinawa.  Our members took their time looking at the beautiful work and time it takes to make such pieces that has a long tradition in these islands.  They also spent equal time shopping for omiyage to bring back, as well as gifts for themselves.  After doing some sightseeing, we found a folk arts store which specialized in Yaeyama goods, and where the owner makes “saba” , lauhala slippers.  This art is quickly dying due to the younger generation not wanting to spend the time in making or learning this art.

We then went to the Yaeyama High School to visit with the students who will be visiting Honolulu and presenting a Yaeyama music and dance concert. They have placed numerous times in Okinawa and All Japan performing arts contest.  They have also taken the overall titles numerous times and will once again be representing Okinawa in the finals at the all Japan National contest.  Watching these safe_image.phpyoung students, you could feel and hear their love for the culture and music of the island, as well as their passion.   Although almost half of the students who helped to win the all Okinawa title had just graduated, the younger members have stepped up to the plate and are giving it their all.

After watching the practice we went back to our hotel and had dinner with the Yaeyama High school teacher, Nagahama.  He arranged for us to go to a friends place and try yakiniku featuring Yaeyama beef, which is supposed to be comparable to Kobe beef.  Its from Ishigaki anyway that matsutake and Kobe beef started. 1238113_845211358828979_1696745433_n The marbling of the meat was amazing, and the tenderness and taste was more than what I expected.  くぬ牛や椅っぺマー細微異端。This beef was amazing!  It melted in your mouth!  There was so much food and the other things we did this day was amazing.  I’m looking forward to the next day.

The next day we took a ferry to Taketomi



Our Tour Begins With Shuri and Representing Our Ancestors at Tamaudun

1926883_844532865563495_709423556_nWe started our first day with our traditional visit to Shuri and by first paying our respects at Tamaudun Royal Tombs.  We begin here to represent our ancestors and ask permission to begin our visit to the birthplace of our ancestors.  1554492_844533972230051_924028721_n





Our next stop was Kwannundo which is an historic sight for us as it connects us to the story of the Edo Nobori as mentioned in the song “Nubui Kudichi”.  There were so many people coming and going to offer their prayers on this day since it was the February 15th on the lunar calendar.

After some of our members got their good luck amulets, our next visit was to Shui Gusuku.  We were able to see the new addition to the castle, which contained the residence of the queen and her assistants, as well as the head priestess.  Continuing construction could also be seen to more additions.1982318_844541855562596_760143507_n

1604758_844547488895366_2034809327_nAfter Shui Gusuku it was lunch time at Shui Dunchi.  Traditional Okinawan food, such as fu-champuru, muzuku,and inamuruchi while surrounded by a beautiful Okinawa style garden and traditional atmosphere.

After lunch we had a detour in our schedule.  Matayoshi Kanjeeku, who is the 7th generation of silversmith in Okinawa, invited us to visit again.  He is a national living treasure for the art of Ryukyu metalwork focusing on the beautiful silver accessories of jifwa and yubiwa(hairpins and rings).  It was sad though as we listened to him speak and explain to us that he is probably the last remaining true Ryukyuan silversmith as he has not been able to train an apprentice that can continue his work. He said his greatest wish is for the sound of his hammer, the art and beauty of jifwa, and the soul of what is put into this art, lives into the next generation.  However, student and student has come and gone, giving up on this art which demands time, skill and dedication. 935194_844547972228651_462128108_nMatayoshi san is 82.  I put in and order for the Ryukyuan fusa yubi, and he was happy to accept and told me,”I am happy to be able to make it and leave it so that I will have something of mine left in Hawaii….but please call before you come back to pick it up later in the year, as I may note be here, but will leave instructions for someone to give it to you”.What did this mean?  I asked.  He said, “well, i am old and we never know when we will leave on that eternal journey.  Thank you for coming today.  It makes me so happy to have been able to share my words with this group and hopefully leave that to continue in their hearts..”  This was so sad to hear, I didn’t know what to say,except to “please take care and see you in November!”

559946_844555012227947_348165328_nThe visit to Matayoshi was more valuable that all the things we could have seen in the museum that was scheduled.  This detour was meant to have happened ……as so many things on our tours.  Sometimes we just need to listen to our hearts and follow that voice.

Uchinaa Haru Gakumun nu Tabi


1743721_843603422323106_1573092145_n Although we have been doing our November Okinawa Gakumun Tours for the past 6 years, this is the first time we are adding on a spring tour. Since this one is led by a single tour guide, we kept it small (12) and welcome participants from not only Honolulu, but from Moku o Keawe and the bigger island, California.

Our flight on Delta to Narita left on time, and it was really comfortable in their new airbus. The economy comfort seats also helped to make the 10 hour flight easier to handle. After arriving in Narita, it was a short one hour wait to board our flight to Okinawa. However, Narita is notorious for delays on take off and long taxi to the runways. It was quite a distance to board the plane since we had to take a bus to the plane. Narita doesn’t have enough gates to handle the flights. The nice cool 55 degree air was refreshing though . After boarding, it took us over 30 minutes taxi and waiting in line to take off. This caused our arrival in Okinawa to be 20 minutes delayed, but it was all good!

We got our luggage, boarded our bus and checked into the hotel. Everyone was tired, but we had bento and briefing then finally returned to our rooms to get some real rest. Tomorrow begins our journey in Uchinaa. It should be especially great for the four members who are here for the first time. By the way….nice COOL weather here in Okinawa too. Tonight its a crisp 1911622_843975605619221_1648982330_n57 degrees! I love this weather!


imagesUkwanshin Kabudan is pleased to announce the upcoming concert “Yuntanzaa nu Hana” (Flowers of Yomitan), featuring Okinawa guest artists Deigo Musume.  The Higa sisters of Yomitan have been bringing Okinawan folk music to audiences for decades.  They began as children, with the encouragement of their father, and travelled around Okinawa to help ease the struggles of communities emerging from the war.  They are well known for the songs “Kubagasa Gwa”, and “Kampo nu Kweenukusa”.

The concert will bring songs and stories from Yomitan, as well as Okinawa shima deeku (taiko), and Okinawan dances. It will be held at the Mamiya Theater on Saturday November 30th at 2pm.

Ukwanshin continues to provide the community with these events in hopes that it will connect the younger generation to our Okinawan culture and heritage, while also providing an opportunity to share with others in our community.  Donations and proceeds from these events help to provide scholarships, workshops, and to help assist the neighbor island Okinawa communities with their events.  We also are currently working with Okinawa in their revitalization projects for their language, history and traditional culture.

Presale tickets are available now and can be bought through this website.  Click the donations button in the side bar which will take you to a paypal secured window.  Please add 2.5% for charge service fee.

You may also write to us at ukwanshinkabudan@gmail.com to order your tickets.  Please make checks payable to Ukwanshin Kabudan and mail to PO Box 61307, honolulu, Hawaii 96839

Presale tickets are $30.  Ticket prices on the day of the show will be $35.  Seats are limited.

We are forever grateful to the many donors and supporters who make these events possible.  Through your generosity we are able to continue the work of our ancestors.

Here is a link to a clip of the Deigo Musume



Katsumi Shinsato Sensei

Katsumi Shinsato Sensei


Living in a humble home in Kalihi, Shinsato sensei is like a father and grandfather to all his students.  He started utasanshin at age 20, while struggling to make a living in Honolulu. He said, hearing the voice of the sanshin made him remember his time in Okinawa with his mother. Because he wasn’t the oldest son, he was left to fend for himself and work hard to support his wife. He learned from two well know utasanshin masters of his time, Eikichi Miyagi and Shinsuke Yamashiro of the Nomura Ryu Style of utasanshin . He also played shimadeeku, Okinawa taiko, and danced along side many other well known Okinawan performing artists, such as the late Katsumi Hokama, Seiko Ikehara, Kanyei Izumigawa, and many others.

Shinsato sensei is one of the best examples of what a teacher of the arts should be. Many people nowadays don’t know who this grand master is. This is because he has never wanted to be in the limelight or has never solicited his name and accomplishments to get recognized and awarded prestigious honors, like so many Okinawan performing artists do nowadays. He actually said that he used to get scolded by his wife. She used to say to him,” You should go out and show face so that people don’t think you stuck up.” But his answer to that was that he saw so many other sensei going out to show off and make themselves known that he didn’t want people to think of him that way. If they didn’t know him, he was okay with that. He also was scolded by Miyagi sensei when he kept on skipping practice. Shinsato sensei told Miyagi sensei that he was busy with work and other things, but Miyagi knew that Shinsato didn’t have much money and was probably skipping cause he couldnt pay for lessons. Miyagi sensei encouraged him and told him that if he loved it then it didnt matter to him if he could pay or not. Shinsato sensei remembers this well and always took it to heart to treat his students the same and to cherish them as his own children. When talking to him, he encourages others like us who teach, to do the same.

Other Okinawan teachers of the performing arts and students can learn a lot from Shinsato sensei and his “Magukuru” Shinsato sensei explained “magukuru” as being steadfast….standing firm to traditions and what you believe in, sincere , courteous, honorable, humble, honest, generous, and nurturing. He said we should take care of things like how we would take care of a plant, baby, or favorite pet. He said,” There is no doubt that there will be a tomorrow. The sanshin is the soul of the player. Together it makes beautiful music because it exposes the heart. If the heart is not clear, then the music will not be beautiful. Its the same with dance,” Shisato said. He explained that this is part of our Okinawan identity.

At 91 years of age, he is truly a great treasure. He doesn’t have such honors and recognition as some other teachers, but his wisdom, talent and “MAGUKURU” makes him priceless and above any honors any man or organization can give. His humbleness and love for his music, culture and students puts him on the highest pedestal, deserving to be honored May 26th at the Hawai`i Convention Center.


-from the song Agi Tsikuten

Okinawa Hands On NPO Group Bringing Language and Culture to Radio

IMG_0181A young group of Okinawans, directed by Mr. “Tuba Kachin” Agena, have been creating and working hard in Okinawa to promote Okinawan culture, language and history through the airwaves in Uchinaa.  “Okinawa Hands On” is a non-profit organization that first started out to give English language support to students that needed to study more for school or testing in Okinawa’s middle and high schools.  They have now grown to focus on the need to also educate the students in Okinawan language, culture and history while incorporating English and having the students get involved in radio program hosts and “kami shibai” or story plays.

The Ukwanshin tour met up with the leaders and some students, and we were also lucky to be hosted by them for a day with a Shimakutuba Tour.  This was one of our highlights to actually hear our native language being used live and for education.

Hands On hosts various radio programs such as Shimakutuba news and talk on FM Yomitan, FM Yambaru, FM Nirai, and a comparative cultural talk show on “The Roots”.  The organization is supported by sponsors and is always looking for help.  If you would like to support this great work please let us know.

Here is the schedule of radio programs.  If you would like to watch live, adjust the time and remember that we are 5 hours ahead, one day back.  You can also access their recorded programs if you can’t make the times.

Tuesday:10am-10:50 Yanbaru shimakutuba news at FM Yanbaru(nago:FM77.6Mhz)
(radio personalities are Paru”,Seibin shinsii, Jinkichi shinsii and Naoko shinsii)
※paru” is haru but nago area, some uchina-guchi sounds are changed.
ex:Hiijaa(goat in uchina-guchi)→Piijaa. Hago-san(dirty in uchina-guchi)→Pago-san.

Tuesday:6pm-7pm Chimuganasa shimakutuba news at FM Nirai(chatan:FM79.2Mhz)
(radio personalities are taruga-ni Kishimoto , Nakamura nu Yocchan ba-chan and Fumiko shinsii)

Thursday:2pm-2:45pm Yuntanza shimakutuba news at FM Yomitan (Yomitan:FM78.6Mhz)
2:45-2:55pm Sadako Tamaki’s Iyasassa Kurashiki kara (coordinate okinawan folk singer)
(radio personalities are Haru”, and Yoshiko sinshii or Sei-san or Yomitan’s guest)

Friday:4pm-5pm The roots at FM Nirai(chatan:FM79.2Mhz)
(radio personalities are Maki Nakamura, Tuba Kacchin(Mr.Red Agena) and kathryn)
※tuba kacchin is Mr.Agena’s grand’pa’s nick name.
Maki-san exprain in Japanese, Mr.Agena using uchina-guchi, and Kathryn speaks in English.


Deigo Musume Raising Money to Put Words In Stone

On our visit to Okinawa, we were lucky to spend time with some friends who are from the Okinawa folk music group Deigo Musume.   These four sisters of the Higa family of Yomitan made popular, a song written by their father, about the war.  Its vivid description and heavy emotions are overshadowed by the up tempo beat that disguises the song’s true story.  The song is titled “Kanpo nu Kwe-nukusaa”(Leftovers of the Warship), and refers to the surviving Okinawa people being the scraps of leftovers after the war had eaten their parents and islands.  Its been around for decades, but now, Deigo Musume, along with Yomitan Village and many other supporters, are raising money to put the words into stone as a memorial to the war, and so that the story will not die and to always remember how bad war can be so that we can always strive for peace.  The group has produced a 5 song CD to help raise money for the cause.  It’s a fairly reasonable amount at 1,000 yen.  The words are in Uchinaaguchi.  When you hear it and listen to the words, you can look at the English translation, but the power of the Okinawan language comes out as no other words can describe how the nuances of the language affects the song and meaning.  Ukwanshin will support this cause and if you would like to order CD’s please let us know so we can get them from Okinawa for you.  We will also be collecting donations to send back after Christmas, for the building of this peace memorial in Yomitan.

Here are the words and translation to the song…

This up tempo song sounds happy, but when listening to the words it brings tears and makes us think about the horrible suffering Okinawans experienced during the war. This group Deigo Musume sings this and their father wrote the song. It tells his story and experiences of the war. Their father was later killed by an American military serviceman who ran him over.
This song also stands for what Okinawa is experiencing today as Okinawans are still fighting for peace that has not come as the war still continues for Okinawa. We were told that you can see the people in this video holding back tears and being strong as they need to in everyday life so they can continue with life among the discrimination, bases and other things. That is why the song was written in an up tempo so as not to be so depressing and to remember what happened, but be strong to go on with life.
The title of the song is “Kanpo nu Kwe-nukusa”(leftovers of the Warships). The song says…

Wakasaru tuchine ikusanuyu, wakasaru hanan sachi yu-san
`yan, gwansun, uyachoden, kanpo shageki nu matuninati
Chirumun, kwe-mun, muru neran, su-ti chya kadi kurachanya.
I was young when war came, our youth was interrupted. Our houses, grandparents, parents and siblings, the rain of bombs and artillery from the ships destroying and making the land unrecognizable and hard to look at.Our clothes, food, everything gone, we had nothing so we ate the poisonous seigo palm.

*Unjun Wannin, Iya-n Wannin, Kanpo nu kwe-nukusa.

Kamin, hutukin ayuraran, haruya kana ami jin naran.
`Ya-gwa ya kaji nu uttubacchi, senkwa katamiti subikatti.
Ucche, hicche mutabacchi. Chimuya makutu du yatashigaya.
To the gods and to our ancestors, we couldn’t even cry for help, the fences came and our land taken away, we lost our money and livelihood. The tent houses we lived in blew away from the typhoons, we scrounged for food and stole war rations and got caught. They beat and dragged us, but our intentions were not of malice, we were just trying to survive.

Duru nu nakakara tachiagati, chine-matumiti tuji tumeti.
Nashigwan nmariti me-nin nashi, jinan, san nan, chinan bi
Awarinu nakanin warancha-ga, warai gwi-chichi, chimutumeti
From the dirt and rubble we stood back up, I looked for my parents, children and wife, but they all perished. Later, I had other children, oldest, second, and others. In all the despair the laughter of children”s voices brought comfort to my heart.

Heiwa nati kara ikutushika, kwanucha-n magisa natiwushiga.
I-yan rataru yama shishi nu, waga ku umuyurugutuni.
Usumiji matatu ndi umure-, yuru nu yunagata mikufayusa.
When peace comes, how long will it last? The children have all grown now. I remember how we hunted the wild boar for food, but also now think about how it must have been for it’s babies that were left to fend for themselves when we killed the mother. I don’t want my children to taste that bitterness. The thought keeps me up at night.

Wa uya kwattaru anu ikusa, Wa shima kwattaru anu kanpo.
Namari kwatin, washirariyumi, Ta-ga anu jama shi-njachaga.
uradi-n, kuyadin, akijaran, shisun machide igunsana.
My parents were eaten by the war. Our islands were eaten by the warships. For the future generations we cannot forget this. Who caused and started this problems? Nothing can compare to the suffering and sadness we experienced, so we must make sure that this story is told.

Click this link to see and hear the song.


Ukwanshin Tour: Last Activities Day

Our last day together for activities today was hosted by the Hands On NPO group.  They came to pick us up and took us to historical places, as well as locations mentioned in local folk tales.  We passed by the American gravesites where some of Commodore Perry’s crew is buried, and then went to the shrine of Akainko, who is believed to be the person who brought the sanshin to Okinawa.  Norman’s voice was not at its best as he had gone out the night before, and also had caught a cold.  He tried his best to offer the uta sanshin music at the shrine, and while we were doing the music, another group appeared at the area.  When we were done with the song, we turned around and saw it was a group of sanshin, odori and taiko sensei and others who we knew from before.  They came with the Okinawa Times Newspaper tour and were making their rounds to places connected with music and dance.  The were so happy to see us and asked us to join in the gassho of sanshin. It was like the ancestors had sent them to help Norman make a good offering of music with the help of this group from the Nomura Ryu Hozonkai.  It was such a nice surprise.

We then continued to a sacred place in Kadena, where folklore has it that a giant serpent lived in the lake there.  It is here that once upon a time, a boy was to be offered up to the serpent so that there would be no trouble in the village.  However, his sister decided to go instead, and as she was about to be sacrificed, a saint came down from heaven to save her.  This area is also said to have been the birthplace of Amawari

What was so interesting and great about this tour was that it was being conducted in Uchinaaguchi by young Uchinaanchu from this NPO group.  They are striving to help grow interest in Uchinaaguchi among the students, and to offer programs as well as assistance for academics, especially to students of single parent families.  It was so amazing and heartwarming to see the dedication and passion of this organization.

Our last stop was the symposium at Okinawa International University, where we discussed the importance of Uchinaaguchi and how it is connected to us through our roots.  Everyone also presented the current programs which have been started to try and revitalize.  It was the first time in Okinawa that numerous organizations were gathered in the same place to share and discuss this issue.  There were over 100 people in attendance.  Ukwanshin also did a mini concert at the end which also included hula and eisaa demonstration from Ryuku Kajimaya of the Okinawa International University.  Brent and mana from our group did Ulupalakua, Hatoma and Meekata.  The Parents and children of the Ninufwa immersion school joined inwith Tinsagunu Hana, and Akata Sundunchi, and the Hands On students presented a Kami Shibai, folktale in Uchinaaguchi.  It was a great event.

The night ended with the Hands on group taking us to dinner, and at the end, the tour members shared their emotions and experiences of their visit to Okinawa.  Tears flowed again as everyone shared, including the Okinawa staff of Hands On.  Although we only spent a day with them, we felt we knew them for a log time, and we promised each other to work together and create an exchange with Hawaii and Okinawa.