KATSUMI SHINSATO SENSEI EMBODIES AND LIVES THE OKINAWAN VALUES OF “MAGUKURU”.

Katsumi Shinsato Sensei

Katsumi Shinsato Sensei

新里かつみ先生(91才)や真心持ち、歌三線世界ぬ宝。来月二十六日に新里三線会の皆さんが先生に“真心”リサイタル、ハワイコンベンションセンターで。

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.

ふたふぁからんじてぃ
いく年がふぃたら
いわうだち松ぬ
むてい美らさ
FUTAFA KARA NJITI
IKUTUSHI GA FITARA
IWAWU DACHI MATSINU
MUTEI JURASA

“FIRST GROWTH CAME FROM THE SEED. HOW MANY YEARS HAVE PASSED? THE PINE TREE IS NOW STANDS FIRM ON THE ROCK. HOW BEAUTIFUL IT IS!”
-from the song Agi Tsikuten

2 thoughts on “KATSUMI SHINSATO SENSEI EMBODIES AND LIVES THE OKINAWAN VALUES OF “MAGUKURU”.

  1. Eric,
    Thank you for this beautiful article. It truly depicts our Sensei. It’s been almost 30 years of weekly lessons with him and he still remains true to heart. For the first 3 months of private lessons,Sensei always avoided to tell me what the tuition would be. I think he thought I wouldn’t last, but I fooled him. He really puts his heart & soul when he composes words to songs and when he translates the songs, it really touches my heart. Sensei is truly a TREASURE to all of us.

  2. I was a student of Shinsato Sensei from the age of 8 to 18, when I moved to California for college. My afternoon lessons with Sensei are some of my most cherished memories, and I think of him often and with great fondness. His dedication, generosity, immense talent, and kindness remain a significant inspiration in my life. It is my true belief that my time as a student and friend to Sensei and his wife Yoshiko has built the best parts of my character; if I can one day grow to be even a fraction of the person he is, I will certainly call myself accomplished.

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