Ukwanshin Tour Connects Identity, Spirituality, and Culture

Ukwanshin’s 5th Gakumun Tour to Okinawa was another visit full of unforgettable events, emotion and information.  Out of all the tours, this must have been the most personal, as it brought us into so much personal contact and information than any other.  I think that this was able to happen because we as a group went up with a purpose.  Everyone also went up with an open heart to our ancestors, and as representatives of our ancestors who did not make it back to Okinawa after immigration.

Sonda Seinenkai Eisa practice..Awesome..Real Eisaa at its best

Words cannot describe our experience on this visit.  There are things that happened that were so personal and can be understood and conveyed through the heart, or to others who have experienced something similar.  From the visit to the royal tombs, to the heartwrenching roars of the US military planes flying over us at Kadena, the exchange with Taira Toshiko at Kijoka Banana fiber kaikan, her chanting the “danju kariyushi” as she stood in the doorway as we left, celebrating the reopening of the Yonaha pottery in Motobu, the excitement of Itoman Hare boat races, feeling the strength and pride in culture at the Sonda eisa practice, the hospitality of the Taketomi village elders, the reconnection and celebration with a memeber finding his family roots, and grave that hasn’t been visited in over a hundred years, and many other priceless encounters.

Haebaru High School Students..The Model for Okinawa Schools!

Visiting Okinawa is always a spiritual one.  Not necessarily religious in that sense, but connecting to ancestors and generations past.  If we open ourselves up to the voice and lead of our ancestors, we can experience Okinawa in a more deep and fulfilling way.  We need to share and understand the suffering and tragic times our ancestors faced, both in Okinawa and Hawaii.  By connecting to the past and understanding what our ancestors went through and the importance of continuing their stories, helps us to better understand our identity.  We can see that within Okinawa prefecture, there is a definite line between areas, which defines the various cultures and languages within Okinawa prefecture.  We in Hawaii are presuming when we group everyone under “Uchinaanchu”, as there is great pride in the         separate towns, villages and regions that make up Okinawa.

Itoman Ha-re boat races on Yukka nu hi. Preserving Tradition

These differences and customs are what makes Okinawa so interesting and beautiful.  Regular tours do not go into this kind of explanation, but also group Okinawa as one body.

Okinawa is calling out for the help of Ryukyuans outside of the islands, to help them to revitalize and come back to their identity and traditions.  When those of this purpose meet, the connection of hearts breaks the barriers of language and location, to bring everyone together as one to understand and share, thus making a stronger bond and exchange.  I truly hope that one day more and more young generations will have the guts to challenge themselves to find their roots and help Okinawa stand up for their rights to live and teach their language, culture and arts.  We must set that vision into motion, so that the wheels turn forward for the

Dakidun(Taketomi) Island..The model all Okinawa should follow

true revitalization of our homeland, like the revitalization of Hawaiian culture, language and arts have made it so common for us in Hawai`i.  Its our turn to take back our identity and culture.  Its our time to stand up to demand our rights to practice our language and culture freely within the schools, politics, and lives.  If we just talk about it, thats all it will come to.  It will just be talk and the lack of action will lead to the eventual demise of our core identity, and all that will be left is a shell. Namaya hana sachuru, iru chimuni sumiti, kumu hariti tidaya, uyafwa urishya. The flowers now begin to bloom, stain your hearts with its colors. The clouds have parted and the sun has appeared, our ancestors are overjoyed.

Real, living and breathing..not a fake village made for tourists

 

 

 

 

Ukwanshin Gakumun Tour Clips By David Miyashiro, Young Okinawans of Hawaii



 

please click on the above link to see video clips of the tour.  Ippe Nifwedebiru to David Miyashiro of Young Okinawans of Hawaii.

1 thought on “Ukwanshin Tour Connects Identity, Spirituality, and Culture

  1. Lily Horio

    Thank you for the wonderful nostalgic video! I left Naha on the 3st, just as you were about to begin your journey. Embarrassingly, it was my first trip and what a mind-boggling one for me, filled with emotional, spiritual tears and joy! My daughter, her husband, and my nephew joined me in tracing my parents’ birthplace, visiting our grandparents’ grave. We drove into the remote section of Motobu, my father’s place was easy to find but my mom’s was located after much knocking on the doors by my cousin on the Miyasato side. My mother’s Gushiken side’s cousin I do not have contact with.
    Anyway, watching your video brought all those mmomories which were only recent and yet seemed so far away. My nephew drove on his own and went to Itagaki Island just to experience the old Okinawa.
    I will be going back but with a totally different attitude, demeanor, etc. Can’t explain the depth of my emotion. For that reason, I enjoyed your video thoroughly. Thank you very much!!

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