Canefield Songs: Holehole Bushi

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In this new film, Professor of Anthropology Christine Yano explains, “If we want to know something of what some of these women’s lives were like…we could do no better than to listen to their own words, as expressed through song.” The women that Professor Yano is referring to are Japanese immigrants who worked in Hawaii’s sugarcane fields in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Through their canefield songs, or holehole bushi, these women sang about their joys and sorrows of trying to start life in a new world. Hosted and narrated by ukulele virtuoso Jake Shimabukuro, the film tells the story of music teacher Harry Urata, and his efforts to record, preserve and perpetuate these musical oral histories.

Airs January 3 at 2:30 a.m.

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