Okinawan Nisei Ono Immersed in Ryukyu Performing Arts
April 4, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Sadao Tome
Sponsored by the Okinawa Prefectural Government, exchange student 25-year-old Amy Ono studied at the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts for one year. She is an Okinawan Nisei (second-generation immigrant), born in Los Angeles. Her study abroad days were filled with Ryukyu Buyo, Shamisen, and Kumi Odori. Amy’s lifestyle changed dramatically from a work-centered life in the United States to one immersed in the Ryukyu performing arts.
There are two events during Ono’s study abroad, which she says stand out in her memory: participating in the Friendship Camp hosted by Hyogo and Okinawa Prefectures, as well as performing in “Ayamiya no Utage,” an Okinawan historical musical.
Ono met Minami Tamamoto for the first time in the Second World Youth Uchinanchu Festival held in Los Angeles in 2013. Twenty eight-year old Tamamoto is president of the World Youth Uchinanchu Association (WYUA) and has been crowned Miss Uruma. The two reunited when Ono came back to Okinawa as an exchange student. Ryukyu Buyo connected the two together. The two dancers collaborated for the first time in a classical Yotsudake (four bamboo pieces) Dance. Tamamoto reflected, “We first met across the ocean and now we are here in our hometown of Okinawa, dancing Ryukyu Buyo. I am thrilled to think how this has brought us closer.”
Professor Eikichi Hateruma, who instructed Ono, says of his student, “She always came in with a positive attitude and gave well thought-out answers to my questions. I could tell that she really absorbed everything that she could from her Buyo practices as well. At the end of last year, she took part in the ‘Free Campus University’ hosted by Taketomi Island and Kohama Island and entertained the locals there. I’m sure it was meaningful for her to have explored the small islands of Yaeyama.”
Ono says she is forever grateful to the supportive members of the Okinawan Association of America, her family, all of the international students that she met in Okinawa, her classmates, and everyone she has encountered through various performances and events. She does not take it for granted that she has been able to reunite with them. “My experiences have inspired me to teach Buyo in the U.S. in the future. For this reason, I would like to stay in Okinawa for another year to stay involved in the Ryukyu performing arts scene.”
(Translation by T&CT, Kaya Doi)
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