Dawn of new era of Okinawa Karate, celebrated by 700 people with opening of new facility
March 5, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo
Hailed as the home of karate in Okinawa, the birthplace of karate, The Okinawa Karate Kaikan opened March 4 at the Tomigusuku Castle Ruins Park in Tomigusuku. Around 700 people including members of the karate community from both Japan and abroad, and people from economic organizations and recreation associations in Okinawa joined in the inauguration, gathering around the new stage of Okinawa karate. There are over 100 million karate lovers worldwide, and the new facility is expected to attract visitors as a symbol of Okinawa Karate, and drive karate’s listing as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage element.
Starting with a commemorative tree planting by the karate community, the inauguration commenced with events such as a performance by the keepers of Okinawa’s intangible cultural assets, Okinawa Karate and Kobudo, a tape cutting, the ceremonial pouring of awamori into a kame pot, and an opening ceremony.
Governor Takeshi Onaga greeted participants, saying, “The Okinawa Karate Kaikan is a tangible symbol to share Okinawa with the world as the birthplace of karate. A place where karate practitioners of the world can gather, and from increased interaction inherit the spirituality of karate from the Okinawans who preceded them. I would like for the karate hall to be the central hub for studying the essence of Okinawa Karate, and for it to contribute to the development of karate worldwide.”
Guest speaker Choko Kiyuna, chairman of the Okinawa Traditional Karate Promotion Association added with conviction, “Karate, representative of Okinawan culture, has been selected as an event at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, drawing worldwide attention to Okinawa. With the Okinawa Karate Kaiakan, a place Okinawans can boast of, as the central location, I would like to work towards spreading karate, and enthusiasm for karate, throughout the world.”
The Okinawa Karate Kaikan opened to the general public March 5, and there is a free shuttle bus departing from the Okinawa prefectural office.
(Translation by T&CT and Sam Grieb)
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