Azuma Kikusue-Sensei corrects the arm positions of 12-year-old Madison Doo and 8-year-old Skye Schumacher. (Photos courtesy Azuma Kikusue-Sensei)
Azuma Kikusue-Sensei corrects the arm positions of 12-year-old Madison Doo and 8-year-old Skye Schumacher. (Photos courtesy Azuma Kikusue-Sensei)

A Rewarding Experience for Both Students and Teacher

Carolyn Morinishi
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Wayne Doliente is proud to be 100 percent Filipino, but when he dons a sandogasa (yakuza hat) and döchü kappa (traveling cape), he dances with heart of a pure Japanese. Wayne has been studying Nihon buyö — classical Japanese dance — for almost two years now and enjoys portraying a yakuza (nomadic warrior) in the dance, “Akai Yuhi no Sandogasa.”

Wayne is one of 15 students who have been taking Nihon buyö classes since January 2016. That’s when a few of my friends encouraged me to start teaching the Azuma Ryü style of Japa-
nese dance on Kaua‘i. Fortunately for us, All Saints Episcopal Church in Kapa‘a allows us to use its classrooms. The students come from Kapa‘a, Wailua, Kïlauea and Lïhu‘e; are of various ethnic backgrounds and range in age from 8 to 84. As their sensei (teacher), I love the enthusiasm of all my students and their commitment to learning this art.

Japanese culture and history are two of my passions and they are often an integral part of the dance lessons. I’ve learned that if the students learn the background and historical setting of the dances, they do better in learning the steps and getting a feel for the dance. I also require that the students perform in full, authentic Japanese costume, which I believe to be an important part of the experience.

“I love wearing the costume and the feeling of being Japanese,” said student Mabel Akutagawa Antonio.

Since starting classes, the dancers have performed at many events and venues, including the Children’s Day Festival at Kukui Grove Shopping Center, a Christmas performance at All Saints Church and the Matsuri Kaua‘i Festival at the Kaua‘i War Memorial Convention Hall.

We have also performed at a few senior care homes, which brought smiles to the faces of the elders. We performed at Mahelona Hospital in Kapa‘a and at the Regency at Puakea in Lïhu‘e. They were wonderful opportunities for us to give back to the community, especially to our elders, who have given so much to us.

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Azuma Kikusue-Sensei (Carolyn Kubota Morini-shi) holds natori (master) and shihan (instructor) certificates from the Azuma Ryü headquarters in Tökyö. She currently teaches over 75 students in two states — Hawai‘i and California. Those interested in learning more about the class can contact Azuma Kikusue-Sensei by emailing her at kikusue.azuma@gmail.com.

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