Jon Shirota

jon-shirota-smallOne of the most important writers to come out of the Asian American community, Jon Shirota was recently back in Hawai‘i—this time on Maui—for several events including:

  • A chance to meet and talk story, Thursday, Jan. 14, 7–9 p.m., Maui Okinawa Cultural Center.
  • Staging of his play Voices from Okinawa, at the Maui Arts and Cultural Center. 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 15 and Saturday, Jan. 16.
  • Book signing at Borders-Kahului, Saturday Jan. 16, 2–3:30 p.m.

Shirota was on Oahu for four events in November 2009:

  • “An Okinawan Sense of Place,” a talk and discussion, Thursday, Nov. 5, 3–4:30 p.m., room 410, Kuykendall Hall (English department), UH-Manoa campus.
  • Opening of his play Voices from Okinawa, Thursday, Nov. 5, Kumu Kahua Theatre, 46 Merchant St., downtown Honolulu.
  • “Akisamiyo! From a Pig Farmer to a Writer,” a talk at UH-West O‘ahu, Monday, Nov. 9, 5–6:30 p.m., beginning with a reception at 4 p.m.
  • “A Conversation with Jon Shirota” at Kapi‘olani Community College on Friday, Nov. 13, at 7 p.m.

For photographs of some of these events, see MANOA’s Facebook page.

About Jon Shirota

Shirota was born in Peahi, Maui, in 1928. His father immigrated to Hawai‘i from Ginoza Village, Okinawa, in 1907, and his mother immigrated from Kanna Village in 1910. Upon graduating from Brigham Young University in Utah, he worked as a U.S. Treasury agent. In 1963, he was invited to the Handy Writers’ Colony, where he completed Lucky Come Hawaii, the first of his three published novels. His plays have been produced in Honolulu, Los Angeles, New York, and Tokyo. He has received awards from the Rockefeller Foundation, the American College Theater Festival, the Los Angeles Actors Theater Festival of One Acts, the Los Angeles County Cultural Affairs Department, and the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission and National Endowment for the Arts.

About the Plays

Adapted from the 1965 novel of the same name, Lucky Come Hawaii was produced in Los Angeles at the Inner City Cultural Center in 1990 and later by Kumu Kahua Theatre in Honolulu. In 1990, it was also produced in New York City by the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre with a production grant from the John F. Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays.

Leilani’s Hibiscus was produced first by East West Players in Los Angeles in 1999 and later by Kumu Kahua Theatre in Honolulu in 2000. Katsunori Yamazato translated the play into Japanese, and this version was produced in Okinawa in 2001 and 2003, in Los Angeles in 2002, and in Tokyo in 2003.

voicesVoices from Okinawa was produced by East West Players and directed by Tim Dang, premiering in Los Angeles in 2008.

All three plays were published in Voices from Okinawa. Shirota’s novel Lucky Come Hawaii will be reissued in a revised edition by MANOA in December 2009.

Jon Shirota on the ‘Net

Star-Bulletin columnist John Berger attended Voices from Okinawa on opening night at Kumu Kahua Theatre. The next day, Berger’s interview with Shirota appeared in the paper.

Hana Hou, the magazine of Hawaiian Airlines, published a feature article about Shirota in its August/September 2009 issue.

The Los Angeles Times published an article about the play Voices from Okinawa before its L.A. premiere in 2008.

UCLA Asia Institute’s web magazine, Asia Pacific Arts, published an article about Shirota’s inspiration for the play Voices from Okinawa.

Written by Shirota, the essay “Discovering ‘Voices from Okinawa'” was published at

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin published an article about Shirota’s play Voices from Okinawa.

The Los Angeles Journal published an interview with Jon Shirota.

Read an article about Shirota from the James Jones Literary Society.


8 thoughts on “Jon Shirota

  1. Pingback: Aloha and mahalo « Voices from Okinawa Online

  2. Go see the play and attend the talking events! Jon Shirota is an uncommon individual with a common touch and the talent to make his insights real. I knew Jon in LA after the initial excitement of Luck Come Hawaii and Pineapple White had subsided, and now plan to get into Honolulu to attend the play/hear a talk. It’ll be great stuff. Guaranteed.

  3. Pingback: Celebration of Jon Shirota – November | Honolulu On The Cheap

  4. Pingback: Voices from Okinawa |

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