Karleen C. Chinen

This annual Okinawan Festival edition is one of our favorites to produce each year. It’s a lot of work, but always fulfilling, because the Okinawan Festival is one of the finest examples of a community’s efforts to keep their cultural heritage alive and thriving and sharing it with everyone. We thank the festival’s pioneer leaders, Roy Kaneshiro and Stanley Takamine, for their vision. We also thank the Hawaii United Okinawa Association for providing us with the festival information in advance so that you can plan your festival experience. Ippe nifee deebiru (thank you very much) also to the many individuals and businesses — small and large — who chose to support our celebration of all things Okinawan.

This issue also marks the introduction of a new column. For several years, we were fortunate to have attorney and English as a Second Language teacher Louis Wai share his experiences of living in Naha City. I was especially drawn to Louis’ observations of life in Okinawa because they were through fresh, non-Okinawan eyes. Louis had grown up in Kalihi, where some of his neighbors were Okinawan, and he had married a local Okinawan woman with whom he had three children. But, despite its many similarities, Hawai‘i and Okinawa are still two different places. As most of you know, Louis returned to Hawai‘i almost two years ago so he could enjoy being a grandfather to his toddler grandchildren.

I thought we’d never find another Louis Wai — until I somehow ended up on the email blast list that featured the writings of Colin Sewake, a Nikkei U.S. Air Force veteran from Wahiawä who had settled in Yomitan, on the western coast of Okinawa island. Colin’s “posts” were being sent mainly to the members of Hawai‘i’s Yomitan Club, whose ancestral roots are in Yomitan. Colin, whose ancestral roots are in Hiroshima, was documenting his observations of life in Okinawa through fresh eyes and with photos. So, I sent him an email, telling him of my interest in his material and asking him whether we could publish it in the Herald as a column. He called me from Okinawa the next day with an enthusiastic “Sure!”

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