Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The 5th World Uchinanchu Festival is coming! Here's the Scoop.

The first World Uchinanchu Festival was held in 1990 to promote cultural awareness among Okinawans and their friends and relatives scattered around the globe. It has since become a tremendous promotional event for Okinawa Prefecture. Each time the festival is held it seems to attract more and more overseas participants which are wonderful for the Okinawan economy.
The planning that goes into this event is tremendous and the Okinawa prefecture really goes all out to welcome back uchinanchu people who many times have been long removed from their Okinawan culture. This year’s festival will take place on October 12th through the 16th and includes many cultural events.
It all begins unofficially on the eve of the actual event October 12, 2011 from 4pm to 6pm on a street called Kokusai Dori. Okinawa Kenjinkais from around the world converge on Kokusai Dori a downtown street in the capitol city of Naha for a festival eve parade. These groups form up with their associations and parade from one end of the two mile stretch to the other in garb that is representative of the areas around the globe from where they came. It is a joyous occasion and is quite a sight with both tourists and Okinawan relatives alike lining the sides of the street to catch a glimpse of the spectacle their returning loved ones in the parade.
In the past the event has been mainly focused on these uchinanchu visitors returning from abroad to their homeland. This time though I have heard there will be an effort to bring the more members of the general public to the festival grounds to participate. This is probably the reason they picked the Okinawa Cellular stadium as one of the main venues for the event.

There are a number of events that will take place during the festival at different venues. Some are exclusively for visitor from overseas and others are open to the general public. My wife and I attended the festival in 2006 and it is simply amazing the amount of effort that the Okinawan people put into this event.
There will be a champuru exchange festival and a world bazaar which runs from Friday (10/14) through Sunday (10/16) at the stadium in Naha. These are two of the events that will be open to all including the general public. I particularly liked the world bazaar because there were booths of all sorts and one gets the feeling of a carnival atmosphere. There were plenty of cultural foods available including many from South America where many Uchinanchu emigrated at the turn of the 20th century. At the last festival the empanadas were my personal favorites as they were made fresh right there on the spot. Nothing like fried food Mmmmm! There is also an outdoor stage where continuous performers display their talents. Okinawan music abounds as well as other forms of entertainment.
There will be a dedicatory Karate and Dance performance on the 13th and 14th during the festival demonstrating how Karate and Okinawan Odori are intertwined. Performances are at 11:00am to 4:50pm on Thursday and Friday. Other events include a Soccer Tournament that is being hosted at the Okinawa Cellular Stadium on Friday October 14th from 10 am to 5pm and an International Gate ball Tournament which will be held in the same location the following day from 8:30 am to 5:30pm. A Karate and Kobudo Exchange Festival also takes place on Friday and Saturday at the Budokan Martial Arts Hall at Onoyama Park and there will be the NHK Nodojiman singing contest held on Saturday and Sunday at the Naha Citizens Hall.

Registered participants with overseas groups have a tremendous opportunity during the festival as there is a structured flow to the events they can participate in. Events include formal opening and closing ceremonies, and a special performance of King Sho Hashi - Dynamic Ryukyu. They can also participate in the world business fair to strengthen business ties around the world with Okinawan businesses.
The 5th World Uchinanchu Festival is being organized by the Okinawa Prefecture, Okinawa International Exchange and Human Resources Development Foundation, and the Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau. Support is also being provided by the Cabinet Office, Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, The Japan Foundation, the Okinawa Prefecture Board of Education, and cities, towns and villages across Okinawa.
The Festival Goal is to prepare the next generation of Okinawans to carry on the achievements of previous generations and maintain, deepen and enrich the network of Uchinanchu around the world.
Organizers for the 5th World Uchinanchu Festival say it has three specific goals for participants and spectators to take away: First to confirm the Okinawan identity, the core and essential basis of the Uchinanchu Network, second to nurture and prepare those upon whom the future of the Uchinanchu Network depends, and third to contribute to the continued expansion of all phases of Okinawa Prefecture's global relationships as we look to the future.

Our gracious hosts have done much to make your experience a memorable one. They have accomplished a great task in your honor so let's help them make the event successful! Also, please be gracious and thank the representatives and organizers you meet during your stay. For once we meet we are all brothers and sisters.

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