Begin, a group consisting of three childhood friends, performs at 8 p.m. tomorrow.

Popular trio
in isle debut

The formidable Keali'i Reichel admired these musicians enough to borrow a melody from them -- the gentle tune that underlies his Na Hoku Hanohano award-winning song, "Ka Nohona Pili Kai." In the credits to his CD "Ke'alaokamaile," Reichel identifies the Okinawan band as "the great singing group Begin."

Okinawan Festival

"Sharing Uchinanchu Aloha"

Where: Kapiolani Park

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow and to 5 p.m. Sunday

Admission: Free; scrip sold for food

Shuttle service: From Kapiolani Community College

Call: 676-5400

The groundwork thus laid, Begin arrives for a free concert at 8 p.m. tomorrow at the Okinawan Festival in Kapiolani Park.

Against a backdrop of frying andagi, Masaru Shimabukuro, Eisho Higa and Hitoshi Uechi will make their Hawaii debut.

The three are childhood friends from the rural island of Ishigaki. Their joint musical career began in 1988, when they performed together at a friend's wedding and were discovered by the owner of a "live house," as nightclubs are called in Okinawa.

The band's debut single, "Koishikute," became the theme song for the Nissan Motor Co., and that was just the beginning, so to speak. Begin has released a dozen albums -- the latest, "Reef Line," just last month.

It was Begin's hit composition, "Nada Sou Sou" that Reichel tapped for his Hawaiian song. A slack-key version was recorded by Ozzie Kotani and Steve Sano on their album, "Omoide -- Remembrance." Kotani and Sano will perform at the festival Sunday.

It's that time of the year again -- The Okinawan Festival returns to Kapiolani Park.

The Okinawan Festival is in its 22nd year, offering traditional foods and entertainment, cultural exhibitions, children's activities and a bon dance.

The Cultural Tent will offer genealogy information, a tattoo display, flower arranging, bonsai and calligraphy.

Portrait photographers also will be on hand to take your picture in traditional dress of bingata kimono or paranku drummer costume.

Below are some of the entertainment highlights of the festival.

» 9:30 a.m. -- Parade on Kalakaua Avenue from Fort DeRussy to Kapiolani Park
» 11:30 a.m. -- Opening ceremonies
» Noon -- Celebrity Kachashi (free-form dance)
» 12:30 p.m. -- Appearance by Kikaida
» 6 p.m. -- Bon dance (andagi and soba sales only continue until 8 p.m.)
» 8 p.m. -- Concert by Begin

» 12:30 p.m. -- Slack-key guitar music by Ozzie Kotani and Steve Sano
» 2:30 p.m. -- Contemporary Hawaiian music by Kalabash
» 4 p.m. -- Contemporary Okinawan music by Katareh
» 4:30 p.m. -- Naha Taiko Club from Okinawa

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