Uchina Columnウチナーコラム

Mr. Tokuichi Nishihara President of the Brazil Association of Okinawa


Mr. Tokuichi Nishihara


Hello everyone, my name is Atsuhito Nishihara. I am the president of the Brazil Association in Okinawa Prefecture. I am also an honorary consul for Brazil. I have been to Brazil 20 times. Yesterday was the 110th anniversary of Okinawan immigration to Brazil, which brought about cultural exchange with the chimu gukuru (island spirit) among the Uchinanchu of Brazil.

Current Activities

There are over 190,000 Uchinanchu, people of Okinawan descent, in Brazil. There are also many children in Brazil who are learning about Okinawan culture. For example, we welcome the students that come on the government-sponsored exchange program at Naha Airport and take them around Okinawa. We also guide Uchinanchu who want to visit Okinawa at least once, some of them to visit relatives who still reside in the prefecture. We do anything that relates to Brazil. We are the window between Brazil and Okinawa. Because of this, if someone from Brazil or someone we do not know contacts us, we go and pick them up at the airport. We also send food to Brazil.
That’s why I’ve been to Brazil 20 times, and I have used around 20,000,000 yen for Brazil-related affairs. Why? Because it takes money to go to Brazil. That’s why everyone in Brazil is so grateful. They’re very happy. Seeing those smiling faces makes me happy as well.

Future Outlook

I believe that the play of Okinawa is made up of Uchinaaguchi, the dialect of Okinawa. That is why although it is a play that indicts emotions, you cannot laugh or cry if you do not understand the dialect.
That’s because you wouldn’t understand the meaning. That is why I want the children of Okinawa to learn Uchinaaguchi, the dialect of Okinawa. Nowadays, most fathers and mothers speak in standard Japanese, which their kids pick up and use as well, which is why the Okinawan language is disappearing. Using the dialect is fun, you can say “Oi, maakaiga, amakai, kumakai (Hey, where did you go? Here or there?),” whenever you want. This is the chimugukuru, or the spirit of the Uchinanchu. That’s why I believe we should teach the children the Okinawan dialect, and continue to spread Okinawan culture even more. You can even use the dialect in Brazil. I truly treasure Okinawan culture.

A Message to the Youth

All the young people in the world, all the Uchinanchu in the world, mensoriyo, uchinaakai (please come to Okinawa). Everyone’s fathers’, mothers’, grandfathers’, and grandmothers’ hometown is Okinawa. The ocean and mountains are beautiful. People’s spirits are beautiful too. It is a wonderful place. I am very happy that I was born in Okinawa. I know you all were born in Brazil, but please try to come to Okinawa. You will love it. You will have a big smile on your face and think, “Alright, I’ve learned a lot about Okinawan culture, I want to live here forever. Okinawa is the best.”


0 facebook sharefacebook

twitter shareTwitter