The kimono has been a symbol of Japanese/Asian custom for hundreds of years, and also exemplifies a conservative, humble, and simple persona. It is quite different from the fit, and tight designs of the western world, but the straight lines, flowing sleeves, and pulled back collar (revealing the woman’s neck), for the kimono, can be a sensual design in itself.
In the current day, kimono seamstresses are mostly veteran woman in their 70’s or 80’s. Few of the younger generation of our day care to even think of even where to get a kimono, less how to make one. With this in mind, Norman Kaneshiro, of Ukwnashin decided to offer a kimono study group, led by Mrs. Miyoko Miyashiro. Norman’s expanded idea is also to have a group of kimono makers, so that Okinawan costumes for recitals, etc, will be available.
The kimono club’s first big project was seen by a sold out crown at the”Danju Kariyushi” production at the Leeward Community College this past May. They had put together a total of 24 kimono for the “Meekata” group, and for the king’s role. Besides the kimono, they also helped to assemble the traditional ufu ubi or long sash used formally by the aristocrats and royalty.
To be able to pass down this art helps to also pass down our values. Okinawans believe that kimono is made with love and heart. This energy is passed on the the person wearing the kimono, and in many cases, is passed on from generation to generation. The stitches lock in this energy and the maker’s spirit helps to protect the wearer in their travels or as they wear the piece. In the past, when a person is laid to rest, part of the ceremony was to have family members each sew part of the kimono. After putting it on the body of the deceased, the seam of the back spine, or sometimes the sides, would be open to release the spirit to the other world.
We hope that more will become interested in kimono and use kimono not only during bon dance season, but as a symbol of our identity. Okinawan textiles are a renowned treasures that needs to be brought to life through wearing them proudly, as compared to the more often seen hakama and montsuki.
The sewing club meets every 3rd Monday at 7pm, at Jikoen on the corner o School Street and Likelike
View from the Palazzo suite
Ukwanshin Kabudan presented its first workshop, and Okinawan Cultural Celebration “Kariyushi” at the JACL Center. It was one of the biggest events for both the fledgeling Okinawa Kenjin Kai and JACL. A standing room crowd of about 200 filled the room as presentation of Okinawan intsruments, music and dances were given, in conjunction with examples of genres of dance.
Many were turned away at the door, as others from California and elsewhere were turned down when requesting tickets, due to tickets being sold out so early. They are already talking about a bigger event next year since the surprise crowd was only from word of mouth and the JACL newsletter, along with fliers.
It was so nice to see the hunger for culture in a place where so much of the glitz and glamour of the neon lights and casinos leave very little room for thought of one’s identity. Many young 3rd and 4th generation were in attendance. It is now up to the Okinawa Kenjin Kai to nurture the young and help them so that they will be able to continue what has been started and pass on to the future. There is much potential for Vegas to be a great center of resource for Okinawan culture.
Thank you to the Vegas JACL and Okinawa Kenjin Kai for coordinating this event and making it happen.
We’re off to a busy summer season, helping out the Young Okinawans of Hawaii with eisaa, bon dances in Honolulu. Also on the schedule is Lahaina Maui, Rinzai Zen Mission Paia, Maui with the Maui Ryukyu Culture Group, Hawi Jodo Mission with the Kohala and Kona Okinawa clubs, and ending in August with a workshop, concert, and eisaa, for the newly formed Las Vegas Okinawa Kenjin Kai. Please join us and remember to make your issei buttons with your issei, or grandparents photos who have passed away, so it will remind us of why we do eisaa, or bon dance.