What is the "World Uchinanchu Festival"?

Okinawa Prefecture is one of the leading regions of outbound immigration in Japan, stretching back more than a century. Our ancestors crossed the sea, pioneered new lands in distant countries, and overcame difficulties through sheer hard work. While building a living foundation in each region and firmly rooting in the local cross-cultural society, their communities inherited Okinawa's unique traditional culture and identity. At the time of the last Festival, it was estimated that there were about 420,000 ethnic Okinawans living around the world.

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.

Outline of "The 7th World Uchinanchu Festival"

"The 7th World Uchinanchu Festival" will be hosted by the 7th World Uchinanchu Festival Executive Committee. The executive committee was established in September 2020 (Reiwa 2), consisting of 141 members from government agencies including prefectures and a wide range of private organizations such as economy, finance, media, international exchange, and culture.

At the same time as the executive committee was launched, the executive committee secretariat was set up in the Exchange Promotion Division of the Okinawa Prefecture Culture, Tourism and Sports Department.

The executive committee officially decided to hold "The 7th World Uchinanchu Festival" in 2022 (Reiwa 4th year).

The festival schedule is as follows:
(1)Festival eve : October 30, 2022
(2)Main Festival: from October 31 through November 3, 2022.

In addition, 2022 , the festival year, also marks the 50th anniversary of Okinawa's return to Japan, so we plan to consider an event where the festival participants and the citizens of the prefecture can share in this.

The 7th Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival Basic Concept

1.The Significance of Holding the Festival

(The Migrant History of Okinawa Prefecture)

 Okinawa Prefecture is one of Japan`s largest migrant prefectures, and in North America, South America, and around the globe there are approximately 420,000 individuals of Okinawan descent. Before and after World War Two many from the prefecture journeyed overseas, at their destinations they overcame difficult times with an indomitable will and have continued to make steady progress. Specifically, the Chimugukuru (Spirit of Compassion) of Uchinānchu (people of Okinawan descent) binds them together along with the people of Okinawa through strong bonds even when they are far apart. Before and after the war, the money and many relief supplies they sent, supported the recovery of their homeland Okinawa in times of financial distress.

 Today, Uchinānchu have built up trust as members of their respective country's societies and continue to be active in various fields such as politics, economics, culture, and academia. Even in foreign countries and regions outside the prefecture, they do not forget about their homeland and cherish the culture and spirit of Okinawa. With a focus on cultural activities such as traditional performing arts, Sanshin, and Karate, at Kenjinkai and other occasions, they have passed the Uchinānchu identity down to the next generation. With regard to the Okinawan culture created by our forbearers, Okinawa Prefecture has designated November 1st as "Ryukyu History and Culture Day", and with this we aim to pass on and develop the culture of Okinawa, and thereby contribute to the realization of a spiritually rich life and a culturally vibrant society for the people of Okinawa.

(Timeline of the Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival)

 With the aim of establishing and developing a global network of Uchinānchu, the "Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival" has been held approximately every five years since its inception in 1990. Through the past six festivals, with the aim of building the Uchinā Network, development and revitalization of both Okinawa and participants countries’ societies and economies, advancing hubs of international exchange, passing on, deepening and expanding the network, developing new networks, and aiming for the sustainable succession and development, we have produced results such as the launch of the "Uchinā Good Will Ambassador" system, the establishment of WUB, the implementation of the Junior Study Tour, the launch of the Host Family Bank, Okinawan local people’s attendance at the ceremonies, and the launch of the World Youth Uchinānchu Secretariat

 In addition, 7,353 people from 29 foreign countries and regions and 603 people from Japan participated in the last festival, making it the largest ever. There, October 30th was designated as "World Uchinānchu Day", and the Worldwide Youth Uchinānchu Festival was held in Okinawa. The Uchinānchu Festival has played a role in the succession and development of the Uchinā Network in various ways.

 The Uchinā Network which we should show with pride to the world, is not one that ends at just interpersonal exchange, information sharing, and business exchange, but like when in 2019 after the fire at Shuri Castle, Kenjinkai among others domestically and internationally sent a great deal of heartfelt support, it has been passed down and developed as a strong bond based on the spirit of Chimugukuru and Yuimaru (mutual aid).

(Philosophy of the 7th Festival)

 The 7th Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival will be held with the expectation of the hope for the further development of the Uchinā Network and also under the assumed remaining effects from Covid-19. In light of the fact that we have been reminded of the importance of interpersonal bonds due to the spread of Covid-19, we will seek the participation of not only those who can come to the prefecture, but those Uchinānchu domestically and abroad who are unable to make the trip to Okinawa, we seek for them to participate from wherever they are.

 Further, for the festival which will be held on the 50th anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan, we will widely share and disseminate information about the festival domestically and overseas, and including for those who had never heard of the festival before, we will seek for their deeper understanding of the significance and achievements of the Festival and further cooperation in the global Uchinā Network.

 The Festival`s philosophy is to confirm once again the strength of the unique Uchinā Network, which is connected by identity and a love of Okinawa. In addition to passing on and developing the network, it seeks to share Okinawa's unique soft power, utilize its allure, and implement sustainable exchange and cooperation through the use of ICT and other advanced technologies, thereby contributing to the development of Okinawa and other regions.

2.Goal of the Festival

 By carrying out programs based on the following basic policy, the "7th Worldwide Uchinānchu Festival" will be held with the goal of contributing to the development of Okinawa and other regions, passing on and developing the Uchinā Network, and implementing sustainable exchange and cooperation through the use of soft power and advanced technologies.

3.Basic Policy of the Festival

  1. At the upcoming Festival to be held on the 50th year anniversary of Okinawa's reversion to Japan, the importance and strength of the Uchinā Network will be reconfirmed, and the passing on and development of the Uchinā Network will be promoted through the promotion of exchanges with prefectural residents and through fostering the next generation who will be the bearers of the future.
  2. Contribute to the development of not only Okinawa but also other regions in the spirit of Bankoku Shinryo and in line with the ideals of the SDGs, by sharing the importance of peace as a foundation for exchange and cooperation.
  3. In addition to making the Festival safe and secure by thoroughly implementing infection prevention measures, the development of multi-hosting for the festival, including usage of online resources, so that Uchinānchu domestically and internationally who are unable to come to Okinawa due to the effects of Covid-19 can still participate.

4.Events/Program Objectives

  1. To maintain, pass down, and expand the Uchinānchu Network, to deepen the bonds between all Uchinānchu, and to reaffirm our Uchinānchu identities.
    E.g. Festival Eve Parade, Opening Ceremony, Closing Ceremony, Grand Finale, Municipal Welcome Events, Emigration Exhibition, Cultural and Performing Arts Exchange Events, Sports Exchange Events
  2. To deepen understanding of, develop, and pass on to the next generation Okinawa’s unique “soft power” (culture, traditional performing arts, history, language, customs, landscape, beliefs, nature)
    E.g. Sanshin, Ryukyu Buyo (Ryukyu Dance), Kumiodori, Eisa (ect.) traditional performing arts appreciation events, Emigration Exhibition,
    Events related to the reconstruction of Shuri Castle,
    The 2nd Okinawa Karate World Tournament, The 1st Okinawa Karate World Junior Tournament, Shimakutuba related events, business fair
  3. To create opportunities for Okinawan youths to look outside of Okinawa and Japan, and to promote overseas travel.
    Examples: Junior Study Tour, Kaiho Yoshu Network Building Program,
    Worldwide Youth Uchinānchu Festival, Let's Study Worldwide Uchinānchu,
    lectures by overseas immigrants
  4. To deepen understanding of multiculturalism and different value systems from around the world, and to promote international cooperation and the peace-loving Okinawan spirit (Chimugukuru).
    Examples: Let's Study World Uchinānchu, World Bazaar, Champuru Exchange
    Festival, symposiums on economy, international exchange and international cooperation, peace exchange events, Okinawa Peace Prize Awards
    Ceremony, requests to media domestically and overseas, and dissemination and sharing of information through the use of the Uchinā Network
  5. To gain an understanding of Okinawa’s appeal as an international tourist destination and the appeal of its locally made products.
    Examples: Okinawa Industrial Festival, tourist information about municipalities,
    introduction and workshops of traditional crafts (utilization of Okinawa Kougei no Mori), ResorTech Okinawa
  6.  To actively introduce online events that make use of the latest technologies to promote sustainable exchange and cooperation
     Realistic real-time interactive events,
     Live streaming of major events,
     Archive creation, proactive communication using SNS,
     Information dissemination and sharing using video libraries