Okinawan information exchange social networking site set up by a third-generation Okinawan from Hawaii proves to be popular
October 11, 2011 Kiyoshi Ujiie of the Ryukyu Shimpo
A social-networking site that was designed to create connections among Uchinanchu around the world and is run by a third-generation Okinawan from Hawaii, Daniel Hiroki Chinen (44 years old), is rapidly growing in popularity. The site maintains active dialogues among its users who exchange information and hold study sessions on Okinawan culture. Already more than 1000 people have joined.
In the past, while Chinen was aware of his Okinawan descent, he had no particular interest in Okinawa. After he finished graduate school in mainland United States he happened to meet some Okinawans in Hawaii. Their encouragement saw him participate in the 4th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival in 2006, and impressed by the participants, who clearly enjoyed the music and the atmosphere, he came to understand the spirit of ichariba chode, (which in English means “once we meet, we are all brothers and sisters.”)
Thinking that meeting once every five years meeting is too infrequent, Chinen started creating a website as a tool to create networks. In 2007, Chinen moved to Okinawa to study Okinawan history. He currently studies at the University of the Ryukyus, and also strives to improve his ability on the sanshin and at karate.
Chinen says that he is concerned that “College students whom I’ve met at the university seem to be less conscious of having an identity as an Okinawan.” These days students who cannot perform eisa or do any karate are not uncommon. On his website, Chinen strives to contribute to the preservation and revitalization of Okinawan culture. At the 5th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival, Chinen will attend an exchange event in Sashiki, Nanjo City, which is the birthplace of his grandfather. “I want to feel ichariba chode again,” said Chinen, excited to be participating in the Festival for the second time.
(English Translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)
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