Members of the Okinawa-kai enjoy a picnic in Washington, DC

Members of the Okinawa-kai enjoy a picnic in Washington, DC

On September 15, at the Potomac Park in Maryland, parents and children enjoyed suika-wari during the annual picnic held by the Washington DC Okinawa-kai.

October 1, 2012 Tamiko Suzuki Correspondent of Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 15, the Washington DC Okinawa Association held its annual picnic under a clear autumn sky in a park in Potomac, Maryland. Committee members and volunteers from the Okinawa-kai busied themselves setting up the tables, installing the sound equipment and getting the barbecue fires going. The spicy aroma from the bulgogi, a specialty of the Okinawa-kai, roast meat, hamburgers and hot dogs wafted around the barbeque. About 100 people, including members of the association, guests and family members with their children gathered to enjoy the good food.

After the master of ceremonies gave a welcome speech, while listening to music they all had lunch with fellow Okinawans, many of whom were meeting each other for the first time in a long time. The participants enjoyed the meal and conversation while soaking up the friendly atmosphere. Nestor Folta Jr., who participated in the Junior Study Tour to Okinawa during this summer, said, “I had a very positive experience in Okinawa.”

There were also recreations for children such as kusudama-wari (“split-the-decorative-paper-ball”) and suika-wari (“split-the-watermelon”). The participants cheered and applauded them along.

The most popular event was a workshop in which children learn how to make a bamboo-copter or a bamboo dragonfly. Parents and children worked together to complete their bamboo dragonflies, cutting the bamboo with their knives and launching them into the sky. A new event this year was a trial of breaking boards using karate skills. After selecting a board to match the physical size of each child, a karate master then taught the children how to hit the board. The children then demonstrated their ability to break the boards using a karate chop. All of those involved in this, adults as well as children, were satisfied with their efforts. There were also performances of folk music, line dancing and sanshin.

At the end of this event, the participants enjoyed the annual tug-of-war between men and women and the contest between people from Naha and from other municipalities. Hearing of the Okinawa-kai, a mother and child from Brazil (but of Okinawan origin) participated for the first time. A couple who studied at the University of the Ryukyus commented that they had not thought that there would be so many people at the event, and that they really enjoyed themselves.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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