Uniting the world and Okinawa: Andres Higa, founder of Uchinanchu Day

Uniting the world and Okinawa: Andres Higa, founder of Uchinanchu Day

Andres Higa talks about the Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival at the Nago International Association on August 21, 2020.

August 24, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

October 30 was designated World Uchinanchu Day in 2016 during the 6th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival (Uchinanchu Taikai), falling on the final day of the multi-day event. One of the masterminds behind the celebratory day is Andres Higa, 46, a member of the Nago International Association. August 23, 2020, marked 30 years since the first Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival, which Higa explains “is a place where uchinanchus around the world come together as one.”

Higa is a third-generation Okinawan Argentinian with roots in Nago City. He first attended the 4th Uchinanchu Festival where Higa recalls, “people gathered from all over the world and I was able to experience my roots.”

He immigrated to Japan in 2008, attended Meio University and its graduate school before landing his current employment. At the time, Higa asked himself, “are there more opportunities to think about uchinanchus?” He then began working with Andres Tadashi Isa, a third-generation Okinawan Peruvian, and they created World Uchinanchu Day. They made a case for this special day in front of the Nago City Council, which then moved the prefectural government and public opinion.

The 7th Uchinanchu Festival is scheduled to take place next year, although there are concerns over whether it will go ahead due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. Still, Higa is hopeful: “It will be the first Uchinanchu Festival since the Shuri Castle burned down, which was the symbol of Okinawan identity. I hope the festival will help bring everyone together.”

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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