Chicago Shimpo
Worldwide Uchinanchu Day in Chicago Showcasing Okinawans’ Arts and Spirit

• “Worldwide Uchinanchu Day in Chicago” took place on November 3 at Glenview Park Center and dynamic Okinawa music, dance, and martial arts were showcased.
• Former Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga, who died last August, declared October 30th as Worldwide Uchinanchu Day at the 6th Uchinanchu Festival two years ago. The purpose is to connect Okinawan people in the world through Uchinanchu network and extend future generations as the first step to preserve and increase awareness of Okinawa’s performing arts, martial arts, history, and spirit.

• According to M.C. Linda Asato, Chicago was one of the cities selected to receive special instructions from professional performers such as Daichi Hirata and Yasuhide Uezu. So the members of the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai and their family and friends got together to practice performances for several months. Asato said that the result exceeded their expectations.
• “We are grateful to the government of Okinawa for this unique opportunity and for recognizing needs and urgency to protect our precious cultural assets to pass onto younger generations,” she said.

• Special guests were Deputy General Takako Yamashiro, who represented Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki; Consul General Naoki Ito; Manabu Yoshiike, Chairman of the Chicago Japanese Club; Tetsuro Mitani, Executive Director of JCCC; Katsu Shimabukuro, Principal of Futabakai Saturday School, and others.

• According to Yamashiro, Uchinanchu Day celebration was held at 12 places outside of Japan last year. She mentioned about Okinawa showcase in Japan festival, which was held last June in Arlington Heights, and that the success was made possible by Uchinanchu spirit which was nurtured in the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai’s 50 years of history.

• The Worldwide Uchinanchu Day started with celebrative dance of Kajyadefu followed by karate kata performance, Eisa Drumming and song of “Umi no koe.”
• Daichi Hirata performed like a stage reading, encouraging the audience to make their dream come true. He invoked the audience’s enthusiasm and played “Eisa Dynamic Ryukyu” with the children’s team of “Chimu Don Don.”

• Yasuhide Uezu performed “Kyotaro Uchijyo” followed by “Kyotaro Shishimai (lion dance).”
• The finale was “Eisa Shinkanucha” performed by all performers.
• The very last piece was, of course, “Kachasi,” and all the audience joined the dance with Uchinanchu in their minds.