OAA members gather at the Worldwide Uchinaanchu Festival in Okinawa.
OAA members gather at the Worldwide Uchinaanchu Festival in Okinawa.

GARDENA — On Sunday, Nov. 8, at 4 p.m., the Okinawa Association of America (OAA) in Gardena will host its first information session for the sixth Worldwide Uchinaanchu Festival (Sekai no Uchinaanchu Taikai) in 2016.

Established in 1990, the Taikai is hosted by the Okinawa Prefectural Government (OPG) every five years and serves as a “homecoming” for the descendants of Okinawan immigrants. The 2016 event will take place from Oct. 26 to 30.

In 2011, a record 5,000-plus participants from the Okinawan diaspora around the world converged at the fifth Worldwide Uchinaanchu Festival with representatives from Argentina to Zimbabwe.

The gathering is an opportunity for Okinawan communities to deepen the understanding of their roots, as well as strengthen international relations. Many festival-goers plan family and group vacations to experience this unique event where the OPG plans an extensive range of activities for the overseas Okinawan communities, from official ceremonies in a sports stadium to outdoor and theater performances; cultural exchanges to leadership symposiums addressing relevant issues; and even tournaments featuring Okinawan karate and eisaa drumming.

The Uchinaanchu Taikai is unique in that it is the only festival of its kind in Japan. Okinawa Prefecture was once the independent Ryukyu Kingdom and that sense of identity has remained strong among Okinawan natives and Okinawans who immigrated over 100 years ago.

The OAA-hosted session on Nov. 8 will explain the background of the Taikai (including videos from the 2011 festival) and what to expect. Past participants will give short presentations about their experiences. OAA will hold a series of info sessions in 2016 for those interested in attending. Although the OAA will not be handling travel arrangements, general knowledge and suggestions will be shared over the course of those sessions.

The OAA is located at 16500 S. Western Ave. in Gardena. The event will take place in the OAA’s Room 103, located in the glass office building. Limited seating and parking. For more information, call (310) 532-1929 or email oaamensore@gmail.com.

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