to excellence is the appreciation of it."
~ Wm. Thackeray
"One person with passion
is better than forty people merely interested."
~ E.M. Forster
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
site came to be:
It all started with a couple of journal/diary entries ... and an insatiable curiosity
about a musical genius.
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.
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
guy who made it REALLY big.
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.
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.
"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
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.
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
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.
But I digress...
San is world renowned. A legend in his own time," I
thought. "Why isn't there a site for him in English?"
"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
A rara avis.
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
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
So guess what ... I
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,
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.
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
music. For the inspiration. For the Aloha.
is a song, and love, the music, may Ohta San be continually blessed with
a beautiful song with bountiful music.
Me ke Aloha pumehana,
& Uncle T
aka Lei and Pila
Says It All