The snipping, cutting, tying, and painting are all finally over. Months of getting together and working on this shisaa project have paid off to create Maui’s first home made shisaa. Or should we say “Maui Built”. The Maui Ryukyu Culture Group has been getting together to learn and practice traditional Okinawan culture, arts, and history, with the help of Ukwanshin. Their young lion dancers, Dane and Kyle Oshiro, have been performing at the Paia Rinzai Zen’s Okinawan bon dance for the past few years, but have been borrowing the shisaa from the Young Okinawans of Hawaii. This year, they get to use their own.
This project experienced many trials, as the first head carved out in Honolulu was damaged during the resin application in Maui. This could have been a sign that it was meant for the shisaa to bee 100% Maui built. Next, afer hours of tying the fiber on some old nylon netting, it was decided to get much more sturdier netting which was ordered form the mainland. All the tedious work had to be undone and re tied to the new netting when it came in. It never hindered the enthusiasm of the members, as this project brought together old and young to sit, work and talk story
The shisaa will make its debut at this years Paia Rinzai Zen’s Okinawan bon dance on August 22nd. Before it’s debut however, there will be a “Shisaa Ujumun Iyaware” or lion awakening ceremony, which is traditionally done for all new lions which will be used for the protection and celebrations of the community. This ceremony is the first for Hawaii, and is rare to see, as even in Okinawa, its done only when a new lion is made to replace an old one. many from Honolulu plan to attend, and members of the Young Okinawans of Hawaii will be there to witness this, after having lent their shisaa to Maui for the past few years. Its like a passing of a torch. Passing the light on…the light of our Okinawan culture.