South American students of Okinawan descent take part in the Yonabaru Great Tug-of-War
August 4, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo
Two South American students of Okinawan descent, whose roots are in Yonabaru Town, took part in the Yonabaru Great Tug-of-War at the Udun-yama Youth Square in Yonabaru Town on July 27.
Sebastian Pablo Uehara who is from Argentina, took part as shitaku, a person dressed in costume who stands on the rope. This year he was dressed as Takaraderauzashi in kumiodori play Manzaitechiuchi.
Caren Chiemi Uehara Gushiken took part in the challenge of memoi song and dance, which set the mood for the michijune parade and the tug-of-war.
Pablo whose great-grandfather is from Yonabaru, and Gushiken whose grandfather is also from the town, visited Okinawa for the first time on July 23 for a study project for children of Okinawan emigrants. The town runs the project.
This is the second time foreign students of Okinawan descent have taken part in the tug-of-war.
While staying at their relatives’ houses for three months, the two students plan to learn Japanese, sanshin, pottery, Japanese Calligraphy, and karate in Yonabaru.
Uehara said, of taking part in the tug-of-war, “When my great-grandfather emigrated to Argentina, he must have regretted that he was far from Okinawan traditional culture. I am glad that I had the chance to continue our traditions through this project.”
Gushiken said, “I am impressed that all the residents were united in their work on making the event successful, from creating ropes to holding the tug-of-war.”
Uehara said, “Even though I was a bit worried about the project because I had to study a lot, I would like to tell others what I felt from the event after I come back to home.” He went on to say, “I would like to make a go of an event of the Yonabaru Association of Argentina to commemorate the 65th anniversary of its founding next year.”
The Yonabaru Association of Peru, which re-creates the great tug-of-war, marks the 100th anniversary of its founding this year. Gushiken said, “I would like to teach the memoi dance that I learned here, to the association, and entertain the association members.”
(English translation by T&CT)
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