2021 Virtual Okinawan Festival

The Hawaii United Okinawa Association’s (HUOA) popular Okinawan Festival will sadly be virtual again this year but we’re still excited for it. They also have a t-shirt design contest going on that ends July 19th (check out their website for more details). Looks like for this year they’ll even be doing smaller in-person events and we loved the Okinawan FEASTival from last year so it’s great that they’re continuing it. This year it will take place on September 4th and 5th so be sure to subscribe to their YouTube channel to catch the virtual festivities.

We learned a lot in 2020 as we created our first ever Virtual Okinawan Festival. This year, we will continue our virtual format for the continued safety of our community. HUOA will continue to strive to bring you the best our culture has to offer with all the entertainment, singing, dancing, interviews and fun videos from the comfort of your own home. We will also be celebrating Okinawan FEASTival and encourage you to pre-order food from your favorite Okinawan-owned restaurant.  

In an effort to elevate the experience, we will also have a number of drive-through food orders and small in-person events. Be sure to check with your HUOA club and this website for more details.

https://www.okinawanfestival.com

They also have a presale for this year’s festival merchandise at https://shophuoa.com. Presale ends July 24th so don’t miss out!

(h/t JTB USA Honolulu)

Contest to Compose the Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival Theme Song

You have until August 13 (Okinawa time) to submit your theme song for the Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival next year. Visit their website’s page for the contest guidelines but one that stood out is that the theme song must have lyrics in Japanese so sadly no instrumentals. Here are the theme song contest details:

In order to welcome Uchinānchu from around the world who will be participating in the festival, we are looking for a theme song that will enliven the festival pre-events and events promoting exchange with the citizens of Okinawa Prefecture.
Please submit a theme song that will fit perfectly with the Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival.
・The length of the song should be no longer than five minutes, the lyrics should be in Japanese, and should not exceed three verses.
・The theme song should be one that makes listeners imagine the Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival and the charm of Okinawa.

https://wuf2022.com/en/topics/948

The prize for the winning theme song is a certificate and 300,000 yen (currently around US $2,700).

Okinawa Memorial Day

Today (June 23rd Okinawa time) is our Okinawa Memorial Day (Irei no Hi). 🙏

… During the occupation of Japan, in 1961, Okinawa Memorial Day was made a holiday by the Government of the Ryukyu Islands in order to remember and pray for their family members and relatives who were killed during the Battle of Okinawa. In 1972, when Okinawa was returned to Japan, Okinawa Memorial Day lost its recognition as a holiday, but this was restored by the prefectural government in 1991. In Okinawa, it is treated like one of the Japanese national public holidays.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Okinawa_Memorial_Day
MONGOL800’s “himeyuri ~Himeyuri no Uta~”

Ryukyu Shimpo sent out a Tweet asking its followers what their recommended songs are for themes of peace and the Battle of Okinawa. I found it interesting that they started off with two that aren’t from Uchinanchu artists but are very famous songs (The Boom’s “Shimauta” and Southern All Stars’s “Heiwa on Ryuka”) nonetheless. It’s definitely an interesting Twitter thread to keep an eye on. (Of course mine is the song above by MONGOL800.)

There’s another Twitter thread started by Tamaki Eriko that’s worth checking out too.

Ichariba Choodee Podcast

A recently launched podcast called “Ichariba Choodee” gives a new voice to our community.

There are many more names for the peoples of these islands. Hear the many voices and stories of those identifying as Shimanchu (or Uchinachu).

Celebrating and preserving our culture, connecting the diaspora, and both proudly and humbly educating and learning along the way. Hosted by Tori, Erica Kunihisa, and Mariko Middleton.
 

Ichariba Choodee is a beautiful Ryukyan saying translating roughly to, ‘When we meet, we become brothers, sisters, family.’

https://www.shimanchupodcast.com

Added! I listened to their first episode and I’m excited to watch them grow. Subscribe (link to Apple Podcasts) to their podcast on your favorite app.

Hawaii’s KIKU-TV RIP

You may have heard a rumor that KIKU will stop airing Japanese and Filipino programming soon.

Unfortunately, the rumor is true.

Starting Monday, June 28, 2021, KIKU and other stations owned by RNN National, LLC will air ShopHQ 24/7.

via the station’s FB page

Definitely sad news to hear that KIKU-TV will no longer show Asian programming. The station brought us NHK’s Red & White Song Festival every year (well, up to 2019’s edition of the show) as well as NHK’s Taiga drama (probably how many saw Ryukyu no Kaze — yes, in spite of how Japanese it was). There was a time when they also broadcasted Okinawa’s folk music red & white song festival (Shinshun Minyou Kouhaku Uta-gassen). The channel will definitely be missed.

Floating Room’s Upcoming EP “Shima”

Floating Room was recently featured in an NPR article for 11 Oregon Artists to Watch in 2021 and this little bit got me really excited:

Floating Room is set to release an EP called Shima on Famous Class Records in November.

https://www.npr.org/2021/06/02/1002272360/11-oregon-artists-to-watch-in-2021

I’m looking forward to listening to Shima and I have so many questions about it that will hopefully be answered when it’s released. Floating Room’s latest EP is Tired and True (just started listening to it again 😊) and it’s available on streaming services and on bandcamp.

7th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival Logo & Slogan Contest

via WUF

Showcase your creativity and earn fame and money by submitting a logo and/or a slogan for next year’s 7th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival! The application deadline is Friday, July 9, 2021, and the winner(s) will be announced in late August (subject to change). As the slogan can be emailed and multiple entries are being accepted, I’ll definitely be giving this a go.

Learn more about it and download the applications on the WUF2022 webpage. (h/t to @JTBUSA_Honolulu)

Freshly Made Spam & Egg Onigiri at Potama

Potama Waikiki

I recently went to check out a restaurant chain from Okinawa that has a location in Waikiki (Honolulu, Hawaii) called Potama (short for Pork Tamago Onigiri). In Okinawa, pork usually refers to pork luncheon meat that’s made by Hormel (Spam) or by Tulip. Hawaii has a similar popular local food called Spam musubi that’s readily available at convenience stores and some restaurants so I was curious to eat at Potama which is made fresh after ordering and includes an egg (tamago) with several topping choices.

The Potama Waikiki is located in the Royal Hawaiian Center’s Waikiki Food Hall which is a couple minute walk from the center’s regular food court. Before heading out to the restaurant, I had already picked out a few choices that were exclusive to Hawaii only to learn that only a limited menu was being served for now (likely due to the pandemic). The Hawaii-exclusive items are: Loco Moco, Garlic Shrimp, Fried Green Tomato Wasabi Tartar, mochiko chicken, and mac salad (the last two items aren’t onigiri). Sadly, none of these were being offered. Outside of the Hawaii-exclusive items, the ones that feature Okinawan food is next on my list and while they do have Abura Miso (andansuu) they don’t have Goya Tempura (we’ve been told it’s coming). So if you do head out there, be sure to check out their current menu on the Waikiki Food Hall page instead of their official website.

I ended up getting the regular Po-tama (yeah, I know it’s basically a Spam musubi with an egg), Andansuu (Abura Miso), Cheese Ketchup, French fries, and iced green tea drink. I’ll definitely be checking the place out again when they have more menu items available. I’m looking to try their Goya Tempura, a couple of the Hawaii-exclusive items, mac salad, Sanpin Tea with Shikwasa drink, and either the iced or hot coffee if it’s from Chatan Coffee. Gori did a review of their Makishi location on his YouTube channel.

Gori (Garage Sale) Visits Potama Makishi

Follow Potama on Twitter. Potama’s website (available in English).

Sanshin from Ichintou Arakaki Sanshin-ten

arakaki34.com

Previously. we posted about ordering sanshin and supplies from Okinawa from an online store that ships internationally. Now I’m happy to announce another established store that you can order sanshin to be shipped outside of Okinawa/Japan (please check with the store if your region is supported): Ichintou Arakaki Sanshin-ten. Although you still won’t be able to order a sanshin with real snakeskin (this is the same for both stores), they may be able to accommodate an order for an upgraded sanshin (i.e. an advanced one) and swapping the real snakeskin with a synthetic one for those who are looking to purchase a better sou (neck). Also note that due to the pandemic, shipping will likely be via ship versus by air so there may be a one to two month wait to receive your sanshin/goods but I believe it will be worth the wait! The alternative is to travel to Okinawa (which is unlikely at this time) and if you do have a chance to visit in the future, they do have a store in Uruma City.

Follow the Uruma City store on Twitter. Arakaki Shigeru-san on Twitter.

7th World Uchinanchu Festival

The 7th World Uchinanchu Festival has a date set! It will take place in 2022 from October 31st to November 3rd (note the website counts October 30th as the Festival eve).

The “World Uchinanchu Festival” honors the achievements of Okinawan people from all over the world, recognises the great value of the community heritage of Okinawa , and seeks to expand and develop the Uchina network through exchanges with Okinawan citizens around the world. The purpose is to bring people together, reaffirm their roots and identity, and thereby be able to pass them on to the next generation.

The festival is sponsored by the Uchinanchu Festival Executive Committee of the world, which is organized by Okinawa Prefecture and related organizations, and has been held approximately once every five years since the first festival in 1990 (Heisei 2). It has been held 6 times so far.

https://wuf2022.com/en/about
WUF Promotion Video

JTB has a newsletter you can sign up to for tour package information. They will have escorted group tours and are also able to help you plan for individual travel packages too. Check out their link for more details.

Follow WUF 2022 on Twitter for the latest updates.