‘Children at play’ learn fast

LIHUE — If the children had their way, this Warabi Ashibi would be longer, said Gloria Hiranaka, camp director of the Okinawa Day Camp which opened Tuesday at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall.

“It’s fun,” said Sophie Yamasato, a second-year camper, while tuning her kankara. “I like the dancing and playing the paranku.”

Sponsored by the Hui Alu, Kauai’s Okinawa Club, and the Hawaii United Okinawa Association, the interactive, hands-on camp offers youngsters an immersive experience in learning about the Okinawa culture and its place in the Hawaii lifestyle.

Warabi Ashibi translated means “children at play.”

“The idea is to learn about Okinawa culture in a fun, hands-on learning environment,” said Karen Kuba-Hori, the Warabi Ashibi director.

Dawson Seria is from Nevada, spending time on Kauai with his sister.

“My parents give us a month on Kauai,” Dawson said, getting help from Wilma Chandler in finalizing the stringing of his kankara, a sanshin which is created by using a discarded half-gallon can fitted with pieces of wood and strung using fishing line.

Margo Hashimoto, a volunteer with Warabi Ashibi, said the campers, 27 registered this year, learn how to play the instruments they create in camp as well as learn dances.

“They put on a little show, Thursday, the final day of camp, for their families and grandparents before enjoying a lunch of Okinawa food,” Hashimoto said. “The young children learn so fast.”

Kuba-Hori said with the help and support of the state’s Foundation on Culture and the Arts, the Warabi Ashibi program, celebrating its 20th year on Oahu, is being enjoyed by children on the Big Island, Maui, and Kauai.

“The foundation allows us to bring over experienced teachers to islands where they have an interest in learning,” Kuba-Hori said.

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