Aza Gushikawa Club Restoring Shisa Through Cultural Workshop

Aza Gushikawa members working on shisa     On Saturday, Aza Gushikawa club held a cultural workshop at Jikoen’s Okinawa Hall in Kalihi.  The workshop featured a taiko demo and presentation on the history and explination of shisa.  The main focus for the afternoon and evening was restoring the body and legs of this historical treasure.  The shisa was handcarved out of deigo wood(paulowina/wiliwili), in early 1950’s, by Mr. Agena of Aza Gushikawa.  This shisa was one of the main attractions for the Jikoen bon dances.  The body, and legs is made up of a nylon netting and covered with strands of manila rope and wool.  The Aza members are using the same material to restore and patch the body and legs.      It was very inspiring to see the club members working together, and very reminiscent of Aza Gushikawa in Okinawa, where the women and young work and talk story, children playing in back, and the elder men drinking and talking on the side.  There’s still lots more to do , but co-ordinators for this event, Scott Tengan and doreen Niibu , said they hope to finish it by their next shinenenkai, and have the traditional blessing and re-awakening ceremony done at that time.     On a similar story, Maui Ryukyu Culture Group is almost finished with making a new shisa.  Their lookin forward to having it ready to debut at thier obon festival on August 22nd, at the Paia Rinzai Zen mission.  This bon dance is the only 100% Okinawan bon dance in the state.  They have the best “ashitibichi” (pig feet soup) and “rafute” (shoyu pork).       Projects like these are encouraging that the interest for preserving our rich culture is still alive.  These two groups realize that we are at a delicate time where we must decide how we are to pass down our culture, and how important our identity is.  Like Norman’s last post, said, we are the rocks and pebbles that will build our mountain. Although we are far away, we can help to restore our identity and cultural treasures.  One by one the rocks are coming together. Chibariyo!  Tin kara, uyafwafuji nu yurukubuya, ami nu shijisankai imisourumun.  Go forward!  From the heavens will rain down the quiet rain from the happiness of our ancestors.