Kohala High School Students Awe The Crowd At The Hawaii Okinawan Festival

Jessica Andrews, Reporter

Every Labor Day weekend, people look forward to the Hawaii Okinawan Festival held annually in Waikiki on Oahu.  It has the intention to perpetuate the Okinawan culture by way of Okinawan food, live entertainment, and hands-on activities and classes.  The building was a beehive of activities and culture.  It really gives people the experience of Okinawa without even having to leave the state.  It attracts 50,000 performers, other vendors, and audience members, and it just happens to be the most attended festival in the State of Hawaii along with people watching from around the world on live streaming television.

This year, RMD had the honor to perform taiko drumming in this world-class performance which included two Kohala High School students (and a former one) Nathan Perez (9) and Jessica Nalani Andrews (10) along with former KHS alumni and reporter, Kaid Nickl (Class of 2018).  They blew the crowd away with their energy and talent (and stamina after a long day of practicing to prepare).

Eisa taiko drumming is very well known in Okinawa and a huge part of their culture, so several different groups were on the entertainment list, which included RMD Taiko, which partnered in our sister Kaua’i and Oahu groups. Instead of drumming on large, stationary drum like their Japanese counterparts that make their own music, this group carries their drum on a single strap resting on their shoulder, drumming to Okinawan hip-hop and rock and roll.  The key is to move with the elegance of ballet, the energy of karate and the ease of those who aren’t afraid to practice.

If this all seems fun to you, RMD Taiko is offering free classes twice a week in both Kohala and Waimea.  It is a great thing to put into college applications while making friends from around the island or the country and going to cool places like the Okinawan Festival!!!  See Jessica Andrews (me!) for more information if you’re interested.