Uchinanchu Festival Closing Ceremony saw 15,395 enthusiastically carry on Okinawa’s spirit
October 31, 2016 Ryukyu Shimpo
On October 30, the Closing Ceremony and Grand Finale of the 6th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival were held at Okinawa Cellular Stadium Naha in Naha City, and the festival drew to a close. 15,395 people attended the Closing Ceremony from overseas, other parts of Japan, and Okinawa. People sang and danced together and deepened bonds with their fellow Uchinanchu, and promised to meet again in five years. At the Closing Ceremony, it was announced that October 30, the day that the festival ended, will be set as “World Uchinanchu Day.” It will be a day when Uchinanchu all over the world feel pride in their Uchinanchu identity and celebrate.
The idea to create a “World Uchinanchu Day” was promoted by Andres Higa, a third-generation Uchinanchu from Argentina, and Tadashi Andres Ysa, a third-generation Uchinanchu from Peru. At the Closing Ceremony, Higa and Ysa read a declaration celebrating mutual support, venturing abroad, and other elements of the Uchinanchu spirit, and encouraged everyone to engrave pride in that spirit into the hearts of all Uchinanchu.
Arturo Yara, president of the Okinawa Association of Peru and representative of overseas participants at the festival, pledged to convey Uchinanchu pride to future generations of children and grandchildren. Karina Satomi Matsumoto from Brazil, representative of the future generation, called on the people as a bridge between nations to unite for the sake of peace and human rights. Japan’s Minister of State for Okinawa Affairs, Yosuke Tsuruho, also attended the ceremony and celebrated the holding of the festival.
At the Grand Finale, well-known Okinawan artists such as Kariyushi 58, Diamantes, and Begin took the stage, and the hearts of the international audience became one.
Minami Tamamoto, who served as head of the steering committee for the World Youth Uchinanchu Festival preceding the 6th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival, reported that the festival was successful thanks to partnerships between the Okinawa prefectural government, city, town and village local governments, and youth associations. She announced that those successes will be built upon by the next festival in Peru in two years.
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, head of the 6th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival steering committee, spoke about the successes of the festival, including the creation of a World Uchinanchu Day and the fact that the World Youth Uchinanchu Festival was held in Okinawa for the first time. “I want to celebrate that all people who love Okinawa, all Uchinanchu, saw their hearts become one, and I very much hope that everyone feels pride in being Uchinanchu,” said Onaga.
(English translation by T&CT and Sandi Aritza)
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