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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.

Monday, August 15, 2011

What Exactly is the Uchinanchu Taikai?

Nearly 100 years ago, many Okinawans left their beloved island, lured by dreams of making their fortunes. Many islanders made their way to places such as Hawaii (where they worked on sugar plantations), Peru, Brazil, and other countries throughout the world. While many of these Okinawans dreams were larger than life, unfortunately life in a foreign country was worse than what they had foreseen. Housing conditions were poor and labor was unbelievably tough. Language barriers and new customs also gave many Okinawans problems as well.

Many people may wonder why so many Okinawans would leave such a beautiful place and move to a foreign country. Several factors contributed to this mass exodus. After Okinawa was assimilated by Japan, the new government imposed a new tax system and instigated a military draft. These policies made many islanders lives extremely difficult. The island also suffered from limited natural resources. Since space was at such a premium, few could afford decently sized farm plots, and typhoons destroyed crops on a regular basis.

Today, emigrants from Okinawa throughout the world regularly reconnect with islanders from the same village, town, or city. Many organized groups exist, promoting friendship and exchanging information. Recently, many groups have consolidated into larger networks called Kenjin-kai. There are sixty-six Kenjin-kai located throughout the world, and periodically these networks hold a Worldwide Uchinanchu (Okinawan) Festival in Okinawa sponsored by the Prefectural government, bringing representatives from different Kenjin-kai together.

The first was held in 1990 and then more were held in 1995, 2001, and 2006. This year, the 5th World Uchinanchu Festival will be held at the Okinawa Cellular Stadium in Naha. The events will take place between October 12th and the 16th once again bringing Okinawans back to their beloved ancestral homeland.

Let the Churashima spirit echo into the future!






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