March 9, 2012 was the first time the L.W. Kolarik 9th Grade campus offered any kind of cultural exchange to their mostly Hispanic student body. Months before, they asked the Japanese/America Society of Houston to give a lecture about the Japanese culture; in order to help broaden the scope of the lecture,Mr. Taka Tusruta then contacted Tomoe-san of the Okinawan Cultural Association of Texas.
After Mr. Taka Tusruta finished his presentation, Tomoe-san took the stage to explain a little about the Okinawa’s geographical location far south of the Japanese mainland; and how its location resulted in a little different culture than Japan itself. Follow by a performance of Mirukumunari by RMDTexas.
To help show Okinawa’s unique culture, Yuri-san of Miyagi Ryu Nosho Kai performed Yotsudake of the Okinawan dance style known as Koten Buyo; a dance from the Royal Court when Okinawa was known as the Ryukyu Kingdom.
Then Alberto-san of OCAT’s Ryufu group gave the students a sample of Okinawa’s minyo - folk music. First explaining a little about Okinawa’s iconic musical instrument, the sanshin, he played several folk songs known to all Okinawans. Then with Tomoe-san accompanying on her O-Daiko drum, they played a little of Tenyo Bushi; demonstrating how the two are used together during the numerous Okinawan festivals.
RMDTexas ended with Kudaka. Afterward, some of the students excitedly came up to the stage to talk with Mr. Taka Tusruta and the performers - even asking for autographs. Making them feel almost famous, even if it was just for a few seconds.
A successful cultural exchange had taken place that day at the Kolarik 9th Grade Center Theater. And both parties left with a good feeling deep in their hearts.