Calvin Nakama Sensei was born in Okinawa and moved to Hawaii in 1976. He went back to Okinawa to attend the First Worldwide Uchinanchu Taikai, and returned to Hawaii inspired and wanted to get more involved in the Uchinanchu community. Nakama Sensei became one of the founding members of the Ishikawa Kobudo Taiko in 1990. In order to provide musical accompaniment for taiko performances, Nakama Sensei began uta-sanshin training under Master Grant Murata. By 1994, he was proficient enough to take and pass the Shinjinsho (Beginning Certification Level) exam. Nakama Sensei increased his practice and study which enabled him to obtain his Saikosho (Senior Certification Level) in 2007. At that time, along with Masters Kenton Odo and June Nakama, they were the first foreigners (non-Japanese citizen) to pass Saikosho for classical uta-sanshin. Nakama Sensei was awarded his Kyoshi certificate in 2008 under Master Grant Murata. He continues to lead Ryuukyuu Kobudo Taiko classes and also co-teaches uta-sanshin classes at the Ryukyu Koten Afuso Ryu Ongaku Kenkyu Choichi Kai USA Hawaii Aiea Studio.
At the age of 10, Sean Sadaoka Sensei was introduced and encouraged to learn uta-sanshin by his cousin Master June Nakama Sensei who along with Master Grant Murata Sensei were in the process of forming the Afuso Ryu Ongaku Gensei Kai Hawaii Shibu. Sadaoka Sensei took an immediate liking to the sanshin and played casually for the next several years primarily playing Okinawan Minyo (folk) music. The turning point came in 2007 when the late Tomoyuki Terukina Sensei, traveled from Okinawa to Hawaii to teach Afuso Ryu members. Terukina Sensei and Sadaoka Sensei formed an immediate bond and it was at this point that he became a serious student of Okinawan Koten (classical) music. In 2017, Sadaoka Sensei devoted himself to testing for Saikosho (third level certification exam) proficiency and, following in the footsteps of his Senpai Master Kenton Odo Sensei, received the highest score of all aspiring Saikosho candidates. As a result, Sadaoka Sensei was invited back to Okinawa for Geinousai where he was featured in a solo performance along with top scorers from other venues to include dance, koto, fue and kucho.
Ryan Nakamatsu Sensei was first exposed to Okinawan music at a young age when his sister was taking Okinawan dance lessons. Nakamatsu Sensei began playing uta-sanshin in 1998 under the instruction of Master Sensei Grant Murata, Kenton Odo, and June Nakama in Hawaii. He passed the Shinjinsho and Yuushusho proficiency exams in 2000 and 2007, respectively. Nakamatsu Sensei moved to Los Angeles in 2009 and began practicing with a small group of Afuso Ryu members there. In 2010, Nakamatsu Sensei received his uta-sanshin teaching certificate and officially began the Los Angeles chapter of Afuso Ryu Choichi Kai. Thus far, Nakamatsu Sensei has had four students successfully pass the first-level exam and one pass all three levels of the children's version of the exams.
Melissa Uyeunten Sensei is multi-talented having achieved proficiency in both Okinawan uta-sanshin and dance. Under the tutelage of Master Grant Murata, Uyeunten Sensei began learning uta-sanshin in 1990 at the age of 13. She also became interested in Okinawan dance and joined Senjukai Hawaii Okinawan Dance Academy and became a student of Frances Nakachi Sensei in 1999. Uyeunten Sensei was awarded the Okinawan Prefectural Government scholarship in 2001 and studied at the Okinawa Prefectural University of Fine Arts in Naha, Okinawa. During this time she honed her skills in uta-sanshin and dance as well as learning the culture and language. She achieved her Shinjinsho for dance in 2010 and her Kyoshi (teaching certificate) for uta-sanshin 2012. Uyeunten Sensei also serves as President and instructor of Hawaii Eisa Shinyuu Kai, an organization which promotes Okinawan style Eisa drumming and dance at bon odori and Okinawan cultural functions held throughout the island of Oahu and also neighbor islands.
Chikako Shimamura Murata
Chikako Shimamura Murata Sensei started learning Afuso Ryu uta-sanshin in 1992 from Master Grant “Sandaa” Sadami Murata Sensei; Shihan, founder and Artistic Director of the Ryukyu Koten Afuso Ryu Ongaku Kenkyu Choichi Kai USA and the Ryukyu Koten Ongaku Gensei Kai, Hawaii Shibu. She attained her Shinjinsho in 1999 at the 34th annual Ryukyu Koten Geinou Koku-ru for Uta-Sanshin (Ryukyu Shinpo). Murata Sensei has performed in multiple State-wide and Okinawa recitals where she perfected her vocal and uta-sanshin talents. In 2010, she attained Yuushuusho for Ryukyu Koten Ongaku Uta-Sanshin (Ryukyu Shinpo) in Okinawa and and her Kyoshi Menkyojo in 2012 under Master Grant Murata. It was also in 2012 that the Grant “Sandaa” Sadami Murata & Chikako Shimamura Murata Uta-Sanshin Studio was established in Nuuanu, Hawaii. In addition to teaching, Murata Sensei continues being an integral part in the Jiutee group for Ryukyu Koten Afuso Ryu Ongaku Kenkyu Choichi Kai USA in Hawaii and around the globe.