Greeting From the Governor of Okinawa
Haisai Gusuyo Chuganabira! Hello everyone!
Starting from the Festival Eve Parade on October 26th this year, the Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival is to be held in the Okinawa Cellular Stadium in Naha and at other venues. This festival is held every five years to bring together those with Okinawan heritage in their home of Okinawa, allowing them to reconnect with their roots and identity. This great event is unique and cannot be seen in any other prefecture.
It is known that the most number of emigrants out of Japan were from Okinawa Prefecture. For over a century, uchinanchu (Okinawans) who moved overseas before and after WWII have established a livelihood and status overseas, and have settled in foreign countries with different cultures thanks to their great effort and hard work. They have also carried on Okinawan traditions and culture in their countries of residence and have created their own Okinawan communities. Today, there are said to be about 400,000 Okinawans overseas, including second and third generations of the original emigrants.
This year sees the 6th festival since the first Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival in 1990. This first festival was held to recognize Okinawans who live overseas as important assets of our prefecture, celebrate their achievements, further develop their network as Okinawans, and also to pass this on to future generations.
The aim of this year’s festival is to continue the development of Okinawans’ network and pass it on to the next generation, to promote Okinawan “soft power” both domestically and internationally, including its own unique culture, custom, and history, and to explore the future of Okinawa using its charm and potential.
Through this festival we are hoping to offer Okinawans living away from the island a chance to come back to their hometown every five years, giving the opportunity to deepen their exchanges with Okinawans here as well as Okinawans living overseas, and to appreciate the various charms of Okinawa. To make this possible, the executive committee is doing its best to prepare for the festival. During the event we are hoping to welcome to Okinawa many uchinanchu and those who have a connection with the prefecture.
I would like to ask local Okinawans to understand the value and purpose of this event, and show the spirit of icharibachode (hospitality to treat even strangers as your brothers) to welcome our guests from inside and outside the country. I would also like to ask local Okinawans to participate in various events during the festival, share Okinawan pride and passion, and help us hold this great event successfully.
Yutasarugutu unige sabira, and thank you very much in advance.
Takeshi Onaga, Governor of Okinawa
Chair of the 6th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival Executive Committee