GARDENA — “Living Treasures of Okinawa: Taro Higa’s Humanism and the Okinawan Gajumaru Tree” will be presented on Sunday, July 1, from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Ken Nakaoka Community Center, 1670 W. 162nd St. in Gardena.

Tetsuro Shimojima

The focus of this event will be a lecture by Tetsuro Shimojima, a renowned author and lecturer from Japan, who was touched by the humanism of Taro Higa, a decorated U.S. Army Nisei veteran from Hawaii who served with the famed 100th/442nd Regimental Combat Team on European battlefields.

Higa volunteered to return to his ancestral homeland of Okinawa in April 1945 as the Battle of Okinawa was under way. Speaking in the local Okinawan dialect, he repeatedly risked his life entering multiple caves. He convinced hundreds of civilians to surrender to American soldiers, including a teacher who had instructed him as a grade school student in Kitanakagusuku to live his life like the noble Okinawan gajumaru tree.

Taro Higa

This then became his guiding light toward a life filled with compassion and courage both in the war zone and in the months following the end of World War II.

The lecture will be in Japanese. Headsets for simultaneous English translation will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Actress Tamlyn Tomita will serve as emcee.

Gus Hokama

There will also be cultural entertainment including a spoken-word and uta-sanshin performance by young Uchinaanchu Yonsei, Jeff Tanaka and Joseph Kamiya; U.S. debut of Uchinaanchu Sansei musician Gus Hokama from Argentina, also a descendant of Kitanakagusuku Village; and drumming by Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko. Copies of Hokama’s CD will be available.

Admission is $10 per person. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. For more information, contact event chair Tamiko Uyehara at Uyehara Travel, (213) 680-2499. Tickets are available at Okinawa Association of America, (310) 532-1929 or

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