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Japanese Cultural Society to Celebrate Year of the Snake

January 24, 2013
The Maui Weekly

The Japanese Cultural Society of Maui (JCS Maui) will welcome the Year of the Snake at its annual Shinnen Enkai (New Year) dinner on Saturday, Jan. 26, at the Elleair Rainbow Room at the Maui Beach Hotel in Kahului. The Shinnen Enkai will begin at 5 p.m. with the traditional otoso (sake welcome) with no-host cocktail hour to follow. Dinner is scheduled for 6 p.m.

Cost for the buffet dinner is $50 for adults, $20 for children (5 to 10 years old) and free for children ages 5 and under.

Tickets are available through the Maui Box Shop at 1870 Mill St. and Credit Associates at 1817 Wells St., both in Wailuku, and Sanrio at Queen Ka'ahumanu Center in Kahului. Organizers note that tickets are limited and will not be sold at the door.

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Kay Fukumoto will be honored at the Shinnen Enkai dinner as the JCS Maui Nihon Bunka Awardee for 2013 for her excellence and contributions to promoting and perpetuating the Japanese culture and for her willingness to share her talents with the community.

The event will highlight the past year's events and programs sponsored by JCS Maui and will feature performances by 2011 KZOO Grand Champion Tevita Apina, 16, of Honolulu, known on stage as Hikariyama Torao. Hirakiyama has traveled to Japan twice--once for Nippon Amateur Kayosai and the second time for Fuji Televison's show called "iine Japan, nippon Daisuki Daikoku jin," where he won second place. Hirakiyama is currently working on becoming professional Enka singer.

Maui Taiko is also scheduled to perform.

Kay Fukumoto will be honored as the JCS Maui Nihon Bunka Awardee for 2013 for her excellence and contributions to promoting and perpetuating the Japanese culture and for her willingness to share her talents with the community.

Fukumoto is probably best known for her leadership of Maui Taiko since it was founded as a nonprofit in 1996. Her connection to the drum, however, came long before that. As the daughter of Albert Watanabe, JCSM's first Nihon Bunka Award recipient, she grew up around the Obon song Fukushima Ondo, which her family has helped perpetuate since it came to the plantation village of Keahua in the early 1900s.

As a young girl, Kay became the first female drummer in the group, and likely one of the earliest (if not the first) female taiko players in the nation.

Maui Taiko currently performs Fukushima Ondo continually during the summer at 12 temples spanning the island.

Over the years, Kay has worked diligently to expand the group in a variety of directions. She has worked with various senior communities throughout the island to bridge the generations and bring Obon to those who are unable to attend on their own.

She has helped Maui Taiko expand beyond Fukushima Ondo to become a kumi-daiko (ensemble) performance group through setting up workshops with accomplished taiko artists from Japan and the U.S. Mainland. The group has now expanded to a troupe of 50 performers.

In addition to keeping a rigorous performance schedule that has included weddings, parties, conventions, private gigs for celebrities, and opening for well-known music groups, Fukumoto has always placed a priority on community events--especially those which promote peace or the spread of culture.

She became even more noteworthy for her involvement with the film, "Great Grandfather's Drum," which came out of her desire for her son's generation to learn more about the history of Japanese in Hawai'i. Produced by Cal and Victoria Lewin, the film, which premiered in February 2011, uses the history of Maui Taiko and its roots in Hawai'i's plantations to touch upon various aspects of the Japanese-American community on Maui, including immigration, plantation life, WWII, the 442nd RCT & 100th Battalion, statehood, and the present day perpetuation of Japanese culture and tradition.

The award-winning film, available in the catalog of the Japanese-American National Museum, has been screened at various film festivals in Japan and the U.S. and is currently being shown on Hawaiian Airlines flights between the U.S. and Japan. It has also been featured on PBS Hawai'i multiple times, and has been distributed to every school and public library in the state of Hawai'i with a lesson plan available online.

In addition, she continues to co-chair the Maui Matsuri, an annual Japanese festival, at the University of Hawai'i Maui College, which attracts nearly 10,000 participants.

The Jan. 26 event will also include a silent auction with proceeds to going toward the club's various projects. Any donations for the silent auction will be greatly appreciated. To make a donation, call Tiffany Iida at 276-5444.

JCS Maui will also arrange to dress attendees who wish to wear kimono. To schedule kimono dressing to be held during the afternoon of the event, call 283-9999.

For more information on the Japanese Cultural Society of Maui Shinnen Enkai dinner, call Yuki Lei Sugimura at 870-8047.

 
 
 

 

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