Today was the first day of the 40th annual Hawaii Okinawan Festival at the convention center in Honolulu. I remember as a kid going to Kapiolani Park listening to music at the bandstand and getting tried and true Okinawan cuisine. It was a yearly event that my parents made a priority to go to.
The festival has really grown from food and music to something even greater. There are many exhibits that focus on remembering our roots from displays of each village that our great grandparents descended from and learning about one’s genealogy. More unheard of stories are also being preserved through documentary stories on how the Okinawans banded together to help relatives back in Okinawa following the war.
I now take my kids to the festival with a new set of eyes on why we must know our past to guide our future. By understanding where we came from and what our ancestors did, we can gain a better perspective on where we want to go in life.
My kids were thrilled to see photos of my dad and his prized steer on the Gushikawa Shijin Kai board as well as their great grandparents who started the farm. I even saw a photo of the Yamaguchi Market posted and told them about how that family loaned my grandparents thousands of dollars back in the 1950’s to start the farm. By sharing their good fortune to us, my grandparents were able to help feed their family and eventually the greater community.
To see so many fellow Okinawans working together to showcase our culture was inspiring. It didn’t matter what political party or belief system one followed, we all ate together, sang, danced and learned as a group and community, which is something sorely lacking in this day and age. People from all ages volunteered to help preserve our heritage so that the younger generation can hopefully appreciate their roots to guide their future. We stood together as a community to tell our stories and show our Uchinanchu Pride!
The Okinawan Festival continues tomorrow.
Visit their site for more information!