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Uchinanchu stories

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-02-14

"Rediscovering my roots to take back culture and peace"Haru Kawamitsu was born in Naha and left for Utah, U.S.A. in 1982 to pursue studies and receive a deeper understanding of the Mormon religion. He attended Brigham Young University, where after finding it difficult to enter the physical therapy for medical rehabilitation program, he decided to study design. The young 'uchinanchu' quickly found America to his liking, and he excelled in his area of study.

Okinawa had always played an important role in Kawamitsu's life, but he remained in the United States for fifteen years with his wife and children, who are also Okinawan. Kawamitsu believed he would stay in America for quite a while, not really having the desire to return to his native land, but his feelings completely changed one day. Kawamitsu explained "We weren't planning to visit again until the year 2000, during the next 'Uchinanchu Taikai', but last October I had this very strong feeling, with tears in my eyes, of wanting to return to Ryukyu. I didn't know why or where those feelings came from." At the time, Kawamitsu was involved in completing his family genealogy, and realized that he did not know many of his relatives back in Okinawa. He was also concerned that his children had no relatives in the United States to look after them, if something should happen to either himself or his wife. The spiritual Kawamitsu then had a dream that convinced him to finally return to the island of his birth. "My mother and ancestors all came into my dream, and begged me to come back," he said.

The fifteen years of living inside American culture gave way to a feeling of wanting to rediscover his own roots. Kawamitsu returned to Okinawa with his family last year, and they are all currently involved in learning the 'sanshin' and other cultural aspects of Okinawa. Kawamitsu is also getting prepared for an upcoming art exhibition at the Gado Okinawa Art Gallery in June.

Although Kawamitsu had absolutely no training in art or design prior studying at BYU, his natural talents enabled him to receive a scholarship after only his first year attending the university. He graduated in 1992 and began to pursue a career as an artist, and has since been producing incredible works of art. Kawamitsu uses a combination of many mediums, including, oils, water colors, pencils, ink and air brush. The combination of different styles produces very bright and intense colors. He likes to blend East and West themes, often combining depictions of humans, nature, and animals. His artwork has appeared at numerous exhibitions in both the United States and America, and he has also won many awards. His most recent exhibition was in September of last year at the Lincoln Center in Colorado. His work was also recently displayed at the Okinawa Government Prefectural Office in Naha.

Kawamitsu's artistic talents do not keep him confined to paintings and drawings. He also writes poetry and music for each one of his works of art. His experience as both a professional actor and model helped him to appear in many films, TV, and radio in the Utah and Arizona area. He is extremely creative, enabling him to put together events that go much beyond the boundaries of simple entertainment.

Kawamitsu is ecstatic about being back in Okinawa, and is looking forward to many future projects. One idea he has, is to hold an "Art Olympics" in the year 2,000. "I would like to have a competition of music, dance, and art to promote communication and peace," said Kawamitsu. He is also excited about peace activist and musician Shokichi Kina's plan to sail on a "peace ship" to bring music and peace to the world. He is hoping to be able to work together on the project, which Kawamitsu saw himself on such a ship during a dream.

He is also currently involved in volunteer work to help women, who have been victims of domestic violence. In 1991 he wrote a song titled "Deep Inside", which was based on a friend's experience of domestic abuse. "Deep Inside" also became the title song to Kawamitsu's first CD, and it was used in Utah and Arizona for promotional campaigns to combat violence against women.

The multi-talented Kawamitsu would like to eventually return again to the United States and bring back with him his 'uchinanchu' experiences. He believes other 'uchinanchu' need to become world leaders. "I really believe that Okinawans have strong talents and messages for the world, but they don't realize it. That's why I came back to Okinawa - to learn myself and take this knowledge back to the U.S. I really believe we need to become leaders of the world. Okinawans have inner peace. We need to learn how to express those feelings."

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