North America Kin Chojinkai Club celebrates 90th anniversary
July 23, 2012 Sadao Tome Correspondent of Ryukyu Shimpo
“Go out and make the five continents into our home.” In 1898, Kyuzo Toyama, “the father-figure of Okinawan immigrants,” and 26 migrant workers from Kin Town arrived in Hawaii. In 1902, Kyuzo’s younger brother, Matasuke, landed in San Francisco. In 2002 at Quiet Cannon in Montebello City, the North America Kin Chojinkai Club held a ceremony to commemorate the 100th anniversary of immigration from Kin Town to North America. On July 1, the North America Kin Chojinkai Club held a commemorative function for the 90th anniversary of the club’s foundation.
More than 200 people, including club members from Southern California, Mayor Takeshi Gibu from Kin Town, Chairman Zenko Nakazato of the Town Council, five ward mayors, and 47 performers participated in the ceremony.
There are town and village clubs in Hawaii, Peru, and Brazil. However, the Kin Chojinkai in the vicinity of Los Angeles is the only town club in North America.
Isao Ikehara directed the planning of the ceremony, and Takeo Kaneshiro, former president of North America Kenjinkai, proposed a toast. Mayor Gibu presented a commemorative gift and money to the club and a letter of appreciation to club members aged 90 or older. Grand Master Keiko Yonaha and her students from a Ryukyuan Performing Arts group in North America, Tamagusuku-ryu Kansenkai, interacted with the performers from Kin Town.
There are unique local traditional performing arts handed down through the years in Kin Town such as musunainai, and shishimai and naginata. At the ceremony, Mirai Ige and Mirai Oshiro from Yaka Ward danced the onna bushi beautifully and entertained the audience. It was the first performance of its type to be held outside Okinawa. Chieko Omichi, an instructor of the Prefectural Police Junior Sports Kendo Club also participated in the ceremony.
Kin Town is known as the base of Okinawan migration promoted by Kyuzo and Matasuke Toyama. In his speech, Mayor Gibu stressed the inheritance of the “Kin Spirit” from the father of Okinawan migrants saying that, “I hope that youth people from the North American Kin Chojinkai and Kin Town maintain and strengthen the bond through youth trainee exchange programs and serve as a bridge between the United States and Japan.
(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)
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