Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Love a Parade!

The 5th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival is underway in Okinawa! The quinquennial celebrates Okinawans and people of Okinawan descent who live in other countries, and there are a lot. The Okinawa Times reported 4,500 people from all over the world marched in the parade that took place on October 12.

My husband and I were happy to march in the parade with the New York Okinawa Kenjin Kai.

My pass to the events

I had the unexpected honor of being one of the ten people carrying the banner for the sixty New Yorkers who made the long trip to homeland.

I'm filled with the anticipation of marching!

Each Okinawan club representing various states within the US and several countries wore T-shirts and costumes specific to their regions. As you can see, we donned Statue of Liberty crowns.

New York's T-shirt

San Francisco Okinawa Kenjin Kai

DC's T-shirt

There are Okinawans in Austin, Texas

Representing Brazil

Not only did Brazil have the most members marching in the parade (1,000), but the country has the most Okinawans in the world (more than 100,000), outside of Japan, of course.

A girl scout leads the USA's contingent through the parade

The focus was on the US, as New York was the first group of Uchinanchu (in Okinawan dialect, "people from Okinawa") to march in the parade. I was told that at the parade during the previous festival in 2006, the New York delegation was relegated to the end of the line, so members were pleased that we were at the front this year. 

We're not sure why, but we think it may have something to do with Teiko Tursi, the president of the New York Okinawa Kenjin Kai. 

Teiko Tursi

This week Teiko was one of 13 people to receive an award from the governor of Okinawa for "expanding the development of emigration society." Teiko shook hands with Governor Hirokazu Nakaima and addressed the crowd before the start of the parade.

Governor Nakaima with Teiko Tursi

Teiko energizes the crowd

A wonderful surprise for me was my aunt Nae Oshiro finding me in the crowd before the parade began.

Surprise visit from Nae Obasan

Nae Obasan cheers for the New York Kenjin Kai

The press and the crowd took pictures of everyone marching the parade route.

I had a great time carrying the banner for the New York group and waving to everyone watching along Kokusai Dori, the main street in Naha, Okinawa's capital.

Being in the first group, I almost forgot about the thousands of people behind us.

When we reached the end of the parade, we did a little "eisa" chant, then we enjoyed the entertainment in the plaza.

Okinawans from Hawaii performed the hula

It was a great beginning to a week of celebrating being Okinawan.


VENUS said...

Wow these are great pictures! I love parades also! I love that you were marching!!! How fun!!

Koh lanta holiday said...

That Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival looks great. It would surely be fun to join one of these parades. I love these kinds of events.