Usude-ku at Maui Bon Dance Makes History in Hawai`i

usudekujpg.jpg usudeku2.jpg mauieisa.jpg  Maui’s Pa’ia Rinzai Zen Mission’s obon fell on the day following U-kui, or the last day of the lunar calendar obon.  The festivities opened with a first tim ein Hawai`i presentation of usude-ku, by the women of the Maui Okinawa community.  This was a rare treat for everyone, as this kind of dance and ceremony is dying out in Okinawa.  The interest in it for Maui, gives a light of hope that this Okinawan tradition will be passed down.  Traditionally, usude-ku is performed by women of the community to ask for blessings of the ancestors.  It coincides with the obon observances, and is usually done the day after u-kui.  The chant used for the Maui dance was conceived by the members after watching Okinawa usude-ku and having a workshop on it.  The women participating, wanted to pass down this tradition, and hope that it will live on.  They were very happy to be the first in Hawai`i to bring this into the obon festival.  They weren’t any different from Okinawa ladies, who would dress in their finest kunji kimono, and be so excited and happy to get together and perform this for the village.  more and more in Okinawa, this tradition is changing to be modern, or in many places, just dying out due to the young women not wanting to take over.  It is a reality now that in about 10 years, this tradition may be extinct from village obon ceremonies.  It is encouraging to see the Maui community responding in such positive ways to the preservation of traditional Okinawan culture.  As the women came out, it was like being taken back to Okinawa, and seeing this happening before your eyes.  Hopefully this vision will continue for future generations to come.