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OKINAWA, Japan, Nov. 19, 2015 /Kyodo JBN/ —
Okinawa Prefecture Hosted Events in New York to Share Traditional Culture, Co-organized with Japan Society
-Events Showcased Food, Karate, "Bingata" textiles and various other Okinawan Traditions Passed Down from Ryukyu Dynasty –
Okinawa prefecture held a number of events to present Okinawa’s traditional culture in New York from November 1st (Sun.) to the 8th (Sun.), in cooperation with New York’s Japan Society (an American NPO founded in 1907).
These events are part of the OKINAWAN VIBES series that the Japan Society has been holding since September. The goal of the series is to improve awareness and understanding of Okinawa in the United States by introducing and spotlighting the appeal of Okinawa’s unique traditional culture and lifestyle from many angles that cannot easily be found through the internet or tourist pamphlets.
Starting off the events was a family-focused event on November 1st called "Obake Family Day: Experience Japan’s Ghosts & Goblins." Some of Okinawa’s ghosts and characters appeared in this event as well, and the children of New York played games and participated in workshops that allowed them to have fun while learning about the customs, culture, and nature unique to Okinawa.
On November 3, three presenters led a lecture, discussion, and food sampling in a session titled "Explore Okinawa: Art, Culture, & Cuisine from the Ryukyu Islands," which was attended by 260 people. Senior Executive Director of the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau, Takao Kadekaru spoke about the diversity of Okinawa’s culture, and the history of the Ryukyu Dynasty that makes up its background. Nutritionist Hiroko Sho spoke on the topic of Okinawan longevity and diet along with its distinctive cooking methods for pork and the benefits of seaweed and vegetables. Additionally, Okinawa-born New York resident and textile artist Hiroshi Jashiki discussed Okinawa’s unique sense of color in traditional textiles.
During the tasting reception held after the lectures, participants tasted traditional Okinawan cuisine including "rafute" pork (braised pork belly simmered in soy sauce), "jimami" tofu (peanut tofu), "mozuku-su" (mozuku seaweed with vinegar), "goya champuru" (Okinawan stir-fry with bitter melon), and more. Attendees also sampled "shikwasa" citrus juice and cocktails made with "awamori" liquor, and tasted the distinctive flavors of Okinawa for the first time.
On November 7, two workshops were held for people with experience in karate, called "Traditional Okinawan Karate," as well as a talk event that introduced the appeal of Okinawan Karate, called "Okinawa, the Birthplace of Karate." At the workshops, four instructors with over 40 years of experience came from Okinawa and directly instructed participants in moves unique to Okinawan Karate and offered guidance on the importance of manners. At the talk event, Choko Kyuna, Chairman of The Society for the Advancement of Traditional Okinawa Karate spoke on the history of karate’s origin in the age of the Ryukyu dynasty, and the mental benefits of Okinawan karate that are being used in the field of education today based on his own experience with karate. Additionally, four instructors demonstrated some representative Okinawan karate moves.
On the final day, November 8th, a traditional craft workshop titled "Creating `Bingata,’ Okinawa’s Vibrant Textile" was held. "Bingata" is a traditional craft that ordinarily takes several months to complete, but a special program was developed for this day that allowed participants to experience making "bingata" in a short period of time. The first workshop session was devoted to making stencils and the second workshop session introduced the "bingata" dyeing process of the fabric, led by three instructors who came from Okinawa.
The "OKINAWAN VIBES" series, which began on September 18, 2015, attracted approximately 1,500 participants. The series ended as a great success, with many participants expressing interest in future events.