GARDENA — On Saturday, Oct. 22, the Okinawa Association of America (OAA) will host their final information session (11 a.m.) and uniform pick-up (12:30-3 p.m.) before heading “home” to Okinawa for the 7th Worldwide Uchinaanchu Taikai/Festival.
This session will be held virtually on Zoom with a limited in-person component at the OAA Center in Gardena for participants without computer access and participants who ordered T-shirts and accessories. RSVP is required for both the info session and pick-ups: http://tinyurl.com/oaa-taikai-22 (the Zoom link will be emailed to you).
The OAA strongly encourages anyone with an elder parent, grandparent, or relative planning to go to the taikai to check in with them and make sure they’re properly registered online and understand Japan’s “Fast Track” system for overseas visitors (regardless of nationality).
For descendants of Okinawan immigrants, the Taikai is widely seen as a “homecoming” that serves as a bridge to connect more to and learn more about their roots. For many Sansei, Yonsei, and Gosei, it’s their first time visiting the homeland of their parents/grandparents/ancestors. Heartfelt greetings of “okaeri” (welcome home) are often heard at the airport and on the streets.
Parties affiliated with the OAA who are planning to travel to Okinawa for the festivities are strongly encouraged to attend the Oct. 22 information session for any last-minute updates and instructions on participating in the International Parade.
There will also be a more detailed itinerary for the OAA’s independently-planned excursions and gatherings. Understanding that some first-time visitors may not have local relatives or friends who can show them around, the association organizes these group activities at every Taikai to make sure that everyone feels included.
For in-person attendance, to ensure the safety of staff, volunteers, and attendees alike, RSVP is strictly required (walk-ins not accepted) and the OAA’s COVID-19 safety protocols will be in place, including the mandatory wearing of face masks.
Although the OAA will not be handling travel arrangements, support and registration assistance will be available for current OAA members. Interested parties are encouraged to visit the Taikai’s official multilingual website for more information, list of events, and updates: http://wuf2022.com/en
Established in 1990, the Taikai is hosted by the Okinawa Prefectural Government and is the only event of its kind in all of Japan. Okinawa Prefecture was once the independent Ryūkyū Kingdom and that sense of unique identity and rich cultural heritage has remained strong among Okinawan natives, those who emigrated, and descendants around the world. The first Okinawan immigrants arrived in California over a century ago.
Contact the OAA for more information: (310) 532-1929 (leave a message) or firstname.lastname@example.org. The OAA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving and promoting Okinawan culture. Facebok/Instagram: @oaamensore