"Next to excellence is the appreciation of it."
~ Wm. Thackeray





"One person with passion is better than forty people merely interested."
~ E.M. Forster

 

 

 

"Presently, foremost among the solo artists is Herbert Ichiro Ohta, the world famous Ohta-San."
~ Cecilia Mizue Suzuki

 

 

 

"The 'ukulele looks like a small, four-string guitar.  It seems simple enough to play and, in the world of great music and complex instruments, it is often overlooked.

But when you hear it played by Herbert Ohta, or Ohta-San as he is better known, your perception of the 'ukulele is forever changed.  In his hands the 'ukulele can sound like many different instruments -- at times a guitar, a harp or even a violin."

~ Lea A. Uehara

 

 

"In 1955, he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, creating a sensation throughout the country...  In 1964, his recording, "Sushi" made it on the mainland hit chart."
~ Cecilia Mizue Suzuki

 

"Herb Ohta was born in October 1934. As a child, he devoted himself to playing the ukulele. At the age of 12, he accidentally met Eddie Kamae on a beach. At that time, Eddie Kamae was the best ukulele player in all of Hawaii and Ohta became one of Eddie's students."
~ Masami Kobayashi



"Music rightly is the best mind trainer."
~ Charles Eloit

 

 

"Surround yourself with beauty and drive deep to the core of what makes it so, and perhaps you can find beauty in all things..."
~ Author Unknown

 

 

 

 

How this site came to be:


It all started with a couple of journal/diary entries ... and an insatiable curiosity about a musical genius. 

TIP:  Since the links above take you out of this site without links back, please take a second to add  this page to your favorites ( or bookmark  it).  It's easy to get lost in cyberspace.



Like many with Hawai`i roots, I've "known" Ohta San for most of my life, but from afar. Growing up in Hawai`i, I remember him as that talented 'ukulele guy who made it REALLY big. 


1967

Not only is he and his music loved in his home state of Hawai`i, he is known on the Mainland and internationally as THE 'ukulele virtuoso.

The Master of 'Ukulele. 


1997

He's also the darling of Japan, the toast of the town wherever he goes.




On a Saturday morning, my husband -- who is arguably Ohta San's biggest fan -- was at a 'ukulele workshop with Ohta San himself, leaving me with a few hours to myself.  That night, we were going to see him perform at a gala, and then again at a formal concert the next day.

Taking a "crash course" on Ohta San via the Internet seemed like a good idea. Isn't that just the way those of us online do it these days?  I'd familiarize myself with him and his music by checking out his site, reading up on his bio, and reviewing his discography. 

While google.com does a fine job of rounding up links, the information on Ohta San is scattered all over the 'Net, tucked here and there between commercial sites.  There is no one place to go to learn about him.

To my surprise and consternation, there is no official Ohta San site in English.  There's a spate of Japanese sites on Ohta San, including a beautiful ohtasan.com site.  But trying reading this.

Unlike Ohta San, who from 1953 to 1963 served as a Japanese interpreter for the U.S. Marines during the Korean war, I never went beyond hiragana and the simplest of kanji.  In Tokyo I kept seeing the same sign written in katakana on buildings all over the city. 

"Wow," I thought,  when I finally figured out that it said: Ta ku shi.  "Yup, Takushi, I've heard of that family name in Hawai`i.  This must be a huge family enterprise,  just like the ABC Stores all over Waikiki."  

Come to find out, it's the Japanese transliteration of  "taxi."  Takushi. Taxi.
D'oh.

But I digress...

 

 

"Ohta San is  world renowned.  A legend in his own time," I thought.  "Why isn't there a site for him in English?"

Instead of "monku"-ing about it, I bookmarked sites that taught me something about Ohta San. The more I educated myself about Ohta San --  the musician, the man, his music and his life, the more intrigued I became. 

Granted a full share of God-given gifts, including  a mother who taught him 'ukulele basics and how to play his first song; his wunderkind musical talent; an aunt who owned a record store that he grew up in; a loving sister who mailed him his 'ukulele when he was in the Marines and encouraged his talent; self-discipline and a strong work ethic; and mentors who unselfishly nurtured and brought his talent to fruition, Ohta San has lead a fascinating life. Marked with fortuitous meetings with impeccable timing, it is replete with synchronicities, serendipities and confluences.

Interspersed with music arranging, recording and world-wide concert tours, were difficult periods of struggling to make ends meet as a local entertainer and soul-searching, all of which added to the curious melange of experiences that has ultimately blossomed into his unexpected, remarkable and prolific life's work.

His is a singular life, filled with valuable life lessons and heavy with kismet.

A rara avis.

 


 

The ultimate Ohta San experience, however, is experiencing him in performance. 

Live. In person.  

Move over wizards in Harry Potter- and Tolkienland, Ohta San is the real wizard. There IS magic in those fingers and genius in his playing. 

The mathematician and philosopher, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz, wrote:  "Music is a secret exercise in arithmetic of the soul, unaware of its act of counting."

Ohta San is a mathematics genius of the musical kind.  His
discography of 60+ albums/CDs of various genres attests to that genius. A brain capable of storing that plethora of melodies, harmonies, and sequences is that of a true genius. 

To say he is music's John F. Nash of  "A Beautiful Mind" is not an overstatement.


 

There's also a whole dimension to Ohta San that can only be appreciated in person. It's his humility, which touched me deeply. 

And then I understood.

This is a man who wouldn't even think of putting up a web site. I don't know if he's even online. And besides, he doesn't need more celebrity; he's had enough to last him several lifetimes.

But what a shame if the generations to come miss out on who he is.  His bio. His experiences.  His "talk story."  But one thing's for sure.  He'll never brag about himself. 

So guess what ... I just volunteered!


It's been said that one's light should not be kept under a bushel.  Marianne Williamson pinpoints the reason for sharing that light: "As we let our light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

I create this site with clear intention:  that Ohta San's inspiration, example and light will reach across time and space to those, who like me, are curious to learn about a man who found his excellence in the mastery of a four-stringed musical instrument indigenous to Hawai`i and with it, gives expression to his genius.

Why?  Here's why.

This is an educational site.  Nothing flashy.  Just a simple site with the essentials.   It's also our way of saying thank you to Ohta San.  

For the music. For the inspiration. For the Aloha.

If life is a song, and love, the music, may Ohta San be continually blessed with a beautiful song with bountiful music.  


Me ke Aloha pumehana,

Aunty D & Uncle T
aka Lei and Pila

Educators

 

>> This Says It All

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2002

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