Okinawa Kenjinkai members enjoy annual events in Tucson, Arizona

Okinawa Kenjinkai members enjoy annual events in Tucson, Arizona

Members of Okinawa Kenjinkai at Tucson, Arizona.

April 1, 2013 Tamiko Suzuki, Correspondent of Ryukyu Shimpo

Located in the southeast of Arizona, the state’s second largest city of Tucson is a resort city surrounded by mountains. This silver and bronze-producing region has developed as a center of the electrical industry. Tucson is also known for being host to the U.S. Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, the largest air base in the world. Many Okinawan women live in Tucson with their husbands who work at the base.

The Okinawa Kenjinkai was established in 1995 with 19 founding members. Seven members participated in the World Uchinanchu Festival held in 2011. Yoshiko Walker, chairwoman of the group, has now served on the Kenjinkai for many years.

The Kenjinkai holds a New Year gathering at a clubhouse as its annual event in which members perform ryubu or Ryukyu dance. Ryubu lessons are offered once a month by a teacher who comes from Los Angeles. They also enjoy playing the guitar and the taiko (Japanese drum), and there is a picnic held once a year. Yoshiko also invites Kenjikai members to her house every year. The Walker family hosts them at barbecue party, and they enjoy throwing horseshoes and playing bingo on the patio. Tucson has an average of 350 sunny days a year and the hot and dry weather allows people to enjoy recreation outside. The Japanese traditional summer dance event Bon Odori, in which the guests wear kimono, is also held at her house. Members enjoy Christmas dinner together at a local club.

Yoshiko said, “Sometimes we go to a casino and play games. Everyone is getting older, so we actively look for ways to have fun, and enjoy yuntaku (chatting) to keep our minds sharp.”

(English translation by T&CT, Hitomi Shinzato and Mark Ealey) 

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