God Shi-Sa Arrives at Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai
• Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai received a pair of shi-sa, lion-like figures of saint dolls. Ikuko Nicols, who is a civilian ambassador between Chicago and Okinawa and a member of the Kenjinkai, calls the shi-sa as “Spirit of Okinawa” and “Spirit of Love”. A pair of shi-sa is the protectorate god of Okinawans and often seen at the gate or roof of a house in Okinawa.
• Nicols wanted a pair for the Kinjinkai’s
50th anniversary coming in 2016, so she applied for a grant to the International
Exchange Department of Okinawa Prefectual Government. She thought that
she would be able to buy a pair with the grant and introduce them at Japan
Festival and Mitsuwa summer festival.
• It was not easy for Nicols to find a way to obtain shi-sa from Chicago, and it took her more than a month. The International Exchange Department required her to host an event by using the grant and submit a report within a month, but the time was too short. She asked the department officials to postpone the report submission, but the department canceled the grant saying that the rule was the rule.
• Beleaguered Nicols called Yonaha and explained everything. Yonaha kindly said that she would make a pair and there was no need to pay more. Later Nicols found that the cost was $12,500.
• Yonaha completed a pair of shi-sa in
three months and was going to host a charity concert to raise funds. At
the same time she was going to hold a presentation ceremony of shi-sa
to Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai on October 4.
• Despite a typhoon, about 450 people
came to the concert. All the people to whom Nicols wrote came. A person
who could not attend had brought a ticket fee with a souvenir in advance
to the concert hall. The Village President sent a big bouquet of flowers,
and the officials came to the concert.
• Although the concert was successful, they were still short by $1,700. Nicles offered to Yonaha to pay that amount. At that moment, Nicols’ former boss came to see her and brought her $10,000. He was a doctor of a mental health hospital where graduate student Nicols had worked. The doctor obtained his doctoral degree in clinical psychology in the U.S. Nicols paid $1,700 to Yonaha and returned the rest of the money to the doctor.
• The pair of shi-sa arrived at
Chicago without any scratch. Yonaha promised to choreograph shi-sa-dance.
A pair of shi-sa presented to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai
The face of shi-sa
Ikuko Nicoles, Civilisan Ambassador
Ikuko Nicols (L) and Keiko Yonaha