Young Okinawans of Hawaii Experiencing Return to Tradition

The Young Okinawans of Hawaii have started their bon dance season already, but this year, there’s an obvious change in appearance and purpose. With the help of Ukwanshin Kabudan, they have learned what obon is all about, and the importance of connecting this season with their ancestors through the songs and dances that have been passed down. They also made buttons with ancestors’ photos, that they wear to remind them of the reason why they are doing eisaa bon dances.p7180025jpg The return to tradition has brought back members who have been looking for their identity and connection to culture, as well as new members who want to learn more about their roots. The button project also gave them a chance to research photos of deceased relatives that they have never seen. In past years, YOH had added some English modern songs, and also performance drumming to mofern Okinawan.  However, these numbers had many elder temple members feeling reluctant to join in or even restricted participation.  Current president David Miyashiro wanted to go back to traditional Okinawan for the elders in the community, and for the ancestors.  The change has brought a wave of positive feedback and appreciation.  Rissho Kosei Kai’s members commented that although they do modern dances and line dances in their bon dance, the Young Okinawans made them think and realize that tradition can be fun and for the young.  They were very surprised that so many young members had interest in Okinawa traditional eisaa, and hoped that their young members would use YOH as an example. “It showed that the Young Okinawans are proud of their culture,” said one RKK member.  “It makes me feel so happy to see that”. Good job Young Okinawans! For photos and short video clips please copy and paste this link to your browser bar, courtesy of Jamie Oshiro.

2 thoughts on “Young Okinawans of Hawaii Experiencing Return to Tradition

  1. kim

    My family has been participating with YOH for several years. My sons drum and my daughter, sisters, mom and aunt all try our best to dance. We have enjoyed the friendships we have made over the years and have gone through the changes in dance and music. We really appriciate the traditional music and dance that was taught to us this year! Although my sons are young they really enjoy the traditional music that we have been doing. Thank you to all of you for teaching us and allowing us participate with such a wonderful group of people! Obon is a time to remember our ancestors. For my family it is a time to remember our ancestors as well as create new memories for our family of 3 generations together.
    Thank you so much!

  2. Eric Post author

    Ippe Nifwe Debiru! It seems that tradition and culture is a reflection of the family and how it is presented or how important it is to them. In the current world and society, many are so caught up in the instant gratification and self gain, that many of the values and traditions of our identities are lost, leaving a “colder” environment for us to live in. As proof to the pudding, the families that have seen the thinning our of cultural values and identity are experiencing less cohesiveness, or we see children in affluent families in drugs and gangs. practicing our culture in our families and for ourselves helps us to appreciate others. You are doing the right thing with your family. The Young Okinawans this year are returning to the path that was set fourth by its founders, and hopefully will produce the leaders needed to take over and lead our Okinawans in Hawaii. Again..Ippe Nifwe Debiru!

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