Kinkomokuzetsu: Column Peru in Koza

July 28, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

Peru is in Okinawa City – you may think that sounds a little strange, but Okinawa City is an international cultural tourism town providing a home to people from over 40 countries and mixing all sorts of cultures together. The huge U.S. military bases are not the only things that lend an international air to the city.
Peru in Okinawa City refers to Koza-Peru Kai, an association made up of people who have returned from Peru to Okinawa about half a century ago. Behind this lays the history of the migrants who went to Peru from the Meiji period through to the postwar period.

There are about 200 members, including elderly people who returned home before the war and young adults. They hold a celebration very year on July 28, the Independence Day of Peru and when they make a toast, instead of saying “Kari” in Uchinaguchi, they say “Salud” in Spanish.

Hoping to introduce to Okinawan people the Peruvian culture that their seniors have treasured through the years, they held a Peru Culture Festa in Koza on July 29. It was time to look back on the Peruvian aspect of this city.
Cynthia Higa, who helped to organize the event, left Peru when she was eight years old and she turns 31 this year. After she resolved her identity crisis between being Peruvian or Japanese, she said, “I’m proud that I am Peruvian-Japanese and of being someone who can understand both cultures.”

Uchinanchu who went to Peru from Okinawa must have the landscape of their homeland of Okinawa etched in their minds, and support each other by meeting regularly. Likewise, people from Peru living in Okinawa City also may have landscapes of Peru in their minds. Seeing Peru by my mind’s eye, I would like to propose a toast: “Salud!”

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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