Mixed Plate: Exploring Buzen’s ancient culture, Hawaii ties

In two years, Japanese-Americans in Hawaii will celebrate the 150th anniversary of emigration to the islands.

In Monday’s preview, Pamela Young explores the culture of Buzen, a city located in Fukuoka Prefecture.

Some of the finest rice is grown in Buzen. From the fields also came hundreds of emigrant farmers, eager for a new start in Hawaii.

One of them would be the father of a governor of the State of Hawaii.

“Gov. (George) Ariyoshi’s father was from Buzen,” said Buzen Mayor Motohide Goto. “Last year, the governor and his wife, Jean, were here to plant a dogwood tree, one of 60 given to Buzen by America as a gesture of friendship.”

Buzen has another source of pride: a Kagura troupe that specializes in ancient Shinto theater. The Japanese Ministry of Culture just named them a national treasure.

The dancers rehearse for a special performance this evening. It tells the story of how the seasons evolved.

As the legend goes, the sun goddess takes all sunlight and hides in a cave while the oni, or demons, make mischief below, kidnapping unsuspecting townspeople.

Only when the proper deference is demonstrated will the demons release their captives, but not just yet. This is Buzen’s version of the Kodak Hula Show.

The joyous noise brings the sun goddess out of the cave, and with her the warmth signals the beginning of spring.

Watch “Mixed Plate: Under a Sakura Sky” with Pamela Young on Wednesday, June 29, at 9:30 p.m.

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