Nana i ke Kumu: Muutu Nnjunkai : Look to the Source

yonehiga11.jpg Our kupuna, our elders. Now represented by our second generation shimanchu, this group is our source of knowledge, connection, and energy to which we can be empowered to continue our heritage and pass on our culture. Their suffering and hard work shows in their eyes and wrinkles, as if each line representing the years of trial and challenges that were overcome to give the latter generations what we have today. To understand who we are and where we come from starts with a thirst that is quenched by the waters of this source. We can receive the energy of this source if we just sit back and listen.After completing the udui workshop in Maui, we had a chance to spend time and talk with some of Maui’s Okinawan seniors who had attended this workshop. It was very comforting to see so many in attendance, and their smiles and kind words of support after the workshop helped us to understand that they are feeling more at ease knowing that their culture will be passed on in the way they remember. One kupuna in particular, Mrs Yone Higa(89), used to teach Okinawan dance until just within the last decade or so. She remembers a Tengan man from Honolulu who came to teach her on Maui. She is also one of the leaders who passed on the Maui obon dances. “I really enjoy the classical dances. It was so nice to see them again, and to have it explained so the young ones can understand.” Even though her legs keep her from doing things as before, she still gets so moved by the sanshin when the kachashi starts, that her hands begin to move to the music, followed by her body, then she has to stand up and dance. The pure energy of the Okinawan heart is alive in Mrs. Higa. She also has many stories connected to the kimono she has put away in her tansu. Many of the implements and accessories were hand made. “We didn’t have money back then, but we used what we had.” Her excitement at being around younger generations who were interested in what she had tried to pass on in her life, kept her up clear past midnight. To look at her, and the other second generation, we realized again that there’s not much time before this “bridge” to our past is gone. It is this generation that also experienced the plantation, but at the same time, worked even harder after, to make sure the third generation had a better life than them. Even if life did get better though, they still enjoyed their retreat to the music, dance and talk story time about their experiences. They are a huge source of information and treasure. They have gone through more than anything we can these days. It is because of their courage that we can enjoy what we have today. Meeting and talking with the kupuna is like plugging into an outlet. At the same time we receive the things they have to share, we also become more energized and focused to pass on their heritage…our heritage. Mahalo to the Higa family and everyone who helped and supported what little we had to offer this past weekend. The visit to Hale Makua with the elderly there was inspiring. Its just a little of what Ukwanshin’s mission is, and which we would like to continue. Mahalo again to everyone, and remember..”Tusui ya takara” Our elders are our treasure. Look to their source

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