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Third Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival

Date Posted: 2001-10-23

The Third Woldwide Uchinanchu Festival is fast approaching, and with it, a call has been made to uchinanchu (those of Okinawan descent) from around the world to return to the islands for four days of sharing heritage, celebrating friendship, and participating in cultural exchange. The first festival was held in 1990 and the second was held in 1995, so this festival has taken six years in the making and promises to be a very positive experience for all who attend. The third festival was supposed to take place in 2000 but was delayed a year due to the G-8 Summit. From Nov. 1 through 4, uchinanchu and those who are interested will gather in the Okinawa Prefecture Budokan, Onoyama Athletics Park, and Okinawa Convention Center for four days of talks, cultural demonstrations, music, and more.

There are five principles of the event: to enact and plan projects that contribute to continuous exchange between Okinawa and overseas as well as to mutual development; to let young people from overseas experience Okinawan history, culture and arts, and pass on the legacy of uchinanchu identity; to promote exchange between overseas participants and residents of the prefecture, as well as with other overseas participants; to serve as an opportunity to further highlight the charm of Okinawa that captured the world's attention during the G-8 Summit; and to promote co-sponsorship from corporations and organizations that utilize the festival's name.

Though the festival doesn't officially begin until Nov. 1, there are a few pre-event festivities planned for Oct. 31. A ceremonial tree planting will take place at the Okinawa Peace Creation Forest Park from 11 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., and a Festival Eve Parade and Ceremony will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Kokusai Street in Naha City. This parade is a way to welcome participants from overseas and allow them to share friendship with fellow uchinanchu while following a marching bands and Eisa dance teams from each Okinawan city, town, and village.

On Nov. 1, the festival's opening ceremony will be held at the Okinawa Convention Center Event Hall from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., a World Bazaar with exhibitions and sales by overseas participants, Okinawans, and mainland Japanese, will be held at the Ginowan Seaside Park and City Gymnasium from 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will include a world business fair and other uchinanchu exchange festivities. This World Bazaar will be held on Nov. 2 - 4 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Nov. 1, from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., "Uchinanchu Across the World: Past, Present, and Future," an exhibition introducing the history of emigration, current uchinanchu activities all over the world, and the uchinanchu future view, will be held in the Okinawa Convention Center Conference Building 2 from and will be held on Nov. 2-4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

On Nov. 2, an Uchinanchu Symposium will take place at the Okinawa Convention Center Conference Building 1 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and on Nov. 3 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. This is a great chance for participants to gather together and discuss many topics. Also, a Karate and Martial Arts Exchange Festival will take place at the Okinawa Prefecture Budokan from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 2 and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Nov. 3.

A Music Fest, featuring Okinawan performers who are active both in domestic and foreign areas will be held at the Okinawa Convention Center Event Hall from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Nov. 3, and an Okinawan traditional performing arts demonstration will take place from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Convention Center Theater. On Nov. 3 and 4, an International Croquet Competition will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Onoyama Stadium and will promote friendship between festival participants through sport recreation. International and Okinawan teams will compete in this tournament style competition. Finally, on Nov. 4, from 5:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., the Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival will conclude with remarks from the Chief of Festival Executive Committee and other special guests, and there will also be various attractions and a festival dedication.

The 3rd Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival will be a positive promotion agent for Okinawan culture and heritage. If you are looking to learn as much about the islands as possible, this event is for you, and if you have lived on Okinawa for a long time and feel a part of you has the uchinanchu spirit, this will be a great opportunity to meet other like-minded individuals and help shape the future of Okinawa.

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