President’s Message — 11/01

by James Y. Iha (Chatan-Kadena Sonjin Kai)

2001 President, Hawaii United Okinawa Association

The opportunity to observe the planning, implementation and evaluation procedures for our Okinawan Festival from start to finish is a truly awesome organizational experience. It is an activity that demonstrates devotion and dedicated commitment to the promotion, preservation and perpetuation of our Okinawan culture by Uchinanchu and Uchinanchu-at-heart. It is an amazing display of unity that would be very difficult to duplicate by any other organization. We can all be very proud of this accomplishment.

Success in an activity like the Festival does not just happen, it requires leadership skills and the commitment of many volunteers. On behalf of the Hawaii United Okinawa Association (HUOA), I extend my highest commendation to the 19th Okinawan Festival co-chairs Gladys Tokunaga-Asao, Keith Kaneshiro and George Tamashiro as well as the many subcommittee chairs and the thousands of volunteers who contributed diligently and harmoniously to the success of our Festival.

Our Okinawan Festival is one of many activities held to meet the objectives of the HUOA. The intensive and well-coordinated planning that took place for the Festival occurs with all of our activities. Before I go any further, I extend HUOA’s “thank you” to all of the conscientious members and supporters who came forward to assist us in activities such as our installation banquet, Hawaii-Okinawa Student Exchange Program, Kariyushi, Summit conference, Storytelling Festival, Children’s Day Camp, Leadership Study Tour, parades, Spring Craft Fair, sports programs, cultural performances and the Autumn Dance Festival.

We still have a few more interesting activities before the close of our calendar year: Children’s Halloween Fair, Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival (Taikai), Winter Craft Fair, and “An Evening in Waipio” craft fair. We’ll end the year with mochi pounding to graciously greet the new year. Please come out and support us in our future activities.

To celebrate our proud past and promising future, we held our 50th Anniversary Banquet at the Hawaii Okinawa Center on Sept. 22. Approximately 800 Uchinanchu and Uchinanchu-at-heart attended the celebration marking this HUOA milestone. The evening was well-orchestrated with an impressive formal program. Congratulatory messages were offered by Lieutenant Governor Mazie Hirono, Mayor Jeremy Harris, Consul General of Japan Minoru Shibuya, United Japanese Society of Hawaii President Claude Zukeran, and Akira Makiya, president of the Okinawa-Hawaii Kyokai from Okinawa.

The presidents, officers and members of our 51 HUOA clubs were recognized for their part in perpetuating and promoting the Uchinanchu spirit and values in Hawaii. Also honored with a Certificate of Appreciation were the HUOA’s past presidents and a family representative of our deceased past presidents. The entertainment was provided by the various Okinawan performing arts schools and by the students who participated in the Okinawa Prefectural Government scholarship program. Our heartfelt thank you to the performing arts sensei, performers, student scholars and supporters for providing us with a very entertaining cultural program.

The Uchinaa kwatchi (delicious Okinawan food) was well prepared with a “taste of Okinawa.” The 50th anniversary commemorative video presentation captured the highlights of HUOA past and present and left us with directions for a challenging yet promising future — a future that must be met with organizational changes as necessary and ever mindful of our grateful past. We must keep foremost in our endeavors the essence of our organization: the promotion, perpetuation and preservation of the Okinawan culture and values. Let us all move forward with the spirit of “Yui Nu Kukuru — Uchinanchu Spirit with Hearts Together.”

 

PHOTO CAPTION:

At the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s annual membership dinner last month, HUOA President Jimmy Iha was asked to light a candle in memory of the people who lost their lives in the September 11 terrorist attacks on the East Coast. Also asked to light a candle was Ruth Ono from the Urasenke Foundation, Hawaii Shibu. HUOA and the Hawaii Shibu are both celebrating their 50th anniversaries this year. (Photo courtesy of Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii)