Shisa Statues Installation Ceremony & Reception

Photo of President Teruo Iwamasa and Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw; photo courtesy of Ms. Tokiko Bazzell

On June 29, the UHM Chancellor’s office, the UHM Library, COS, and CJS held an installation ceremony and reception for the newly installed shisa statues donated by the University of the Ryukyus. More than sixty community members, faculty, and students came to officially welcome the shisa statues to their new location on the UHM campus, between Hamilton Library and Paradise Palms.

Marking the beginning of the evening, the Hawai’inuiakea Protocol Team, the Tuahine Troupe, began with an oli (a Hawaiian chant) to celebrate the friendship between the University of the Ryukyus (UR) and UH.  Honoring this relationship, UR President Teruo Iwamasa (who was visiting UH for the first time) and Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw together put lei’s on the two statues, as seen in the photo above.

After the short ceremony, a reception took place in Hamilton Library.  Interim University Librarian Gregg Geary gave the welcome speech, where he continued the evening’s theme and highlighted the close ties between UR and UH libraries. Norman Kaneshiro and Cheryl Nakasone, who are lecturers at UH, performed a traditional Okinawan dance called the Kajadifu Bushi.

Cheryl Nakasone and Norman Kaneshiro performing the Kajadifu Bushi

President Iwamasa and Chancellor Hinshaw then signed the deed of the gift, signaling UH’s official acceptance of the shisa statues. Remarks by President Iwamasa, Chancellor Hinshaw, and UH Vice President John Morton (speaking on behalf of UH President MRC Greenwood who was unable to attend the event) followed.

Chancellor Hinshaw and President Iwamasa signing the deed of the shisa

Near the end of the evening, the Tuahine Troupe performed a mele (a general word for a Hawaiian song) in honor of the UR delegation. Closing the event, Hawai’i Governor Neil Abercrombie gave a speech where he discussed the importance of the Okinawan community to the state of Hawai’i. The evening marked an important day in UHM history, solidifying the already close bonds between UH and UR.

Governor Neil Abercrombie giving the closing remarks

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