Let’s greet each other with Haisai
Naha starts to encourage the use of Uchinaguchi

October 20, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

On October 19, Mayor of Naha Takeshi Onaga announced that the Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival was the stimulus behind the city making an effort to encourage people to give greetings in Uchinaguchi (Okinawan language) on formal occasions. At a regular press conference held in Naha City Hall, Mayor Onaga said, “To respond to the expectations of Uchinanchu living overseas, I hope that we can create an environment in which people use symbolic Uchinaguchi words, such as haisai (hello).”

The reason behind Mayor Onaga’s determined stance was that he read a newspaper article stating that a man in his 60s of Okinawan descent who participated to the festival was shocked to find out that Okinawans his age can no longer speak Uchinaguchi. He also said that he “feels a little sad” to think that there are officials in the City Hall who don’t understand any Uchinaguchi. He indicated the strength of his intention saying, “I wanted to convey my feelings while the matter was still fresh just after the end of the Uchinanchu Festival. I will talk to the Okinawa Association of City Mayors, and hope that the movement spreads through the prefecture.”

(English Translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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