13,587 people attend the Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival from around the world

13,587 people attend the Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival from around the world

Participants of the 6th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival getting excited during the opening ceremony music concert on October 27 at 7:04 p.m. at the Okinawa Cellular Stadium (Photograph by Futoshi Hanashiro)

October 28, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo

The opening ceremony of the 6th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival took place at the Okinawa Cellular Stadium in Naha on October 27, kicking off the four-day festival. A total of 13,587 people attended the opening ceremony. The festival lasted until October 30 and featured events promoting traditional Okinawan culture and history. These events were hoped to strengthen the bonds between Uchinanchu at home and abroad. There are approximately 420 thousand Uchinanchu around the world. The objective of the festival was for people to exchange ideas about developing and passing down this Uchinanchu Network, and to promote Okinawan “soft power,” or culture, history, traditional performing arts, etc. The total number of participants from overseas was a record high of 7,297 people, coming from 26 countries and two regions. Including those from within the country, the total number of participants was more than 15,683 people. Representatives of the festival’s executive committee expected the grand total over the four-day event to reach 420 thousand people.

October 30 was declared as the World Uchinanchu Day during the closing ceremony. The slogan of the festival was: “Let the Whole World Move to the Uchina Beat.” This aimed to further develop and pass down the Uchinanchu Network, which was started over a century ago by emigrants. It also aimed to promote Okinawan “soft power” to those at home and abroad.

Hawaii Governor David Ige, the first U.S. governor of Okinawan descent, attended the opening ceremony. He said that Okinawa is his roots and that whether he’s in Hawaii, traveling in the mainland, or is in Naha, he feels proud to be Uchinanchu.

Governor Takeshi Onaga said, “In order for us to develop and pass down a worldwide network, which is a valuable asset, it is crucial for us to understand one another beyond differing generations or viewpoints, strengthen our bonds, reaffirm our identity, and to make our hearts as one as we look into the future.”

(English translation by T&TC and Chelsea Ashimine)

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