Japan Festival 2018 Theme: Okinawa, Culture of “Ryukyu” Islands
Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai
Bringing Okinawan Culture to Chicago and the World for the Past 50 Years
The Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai is an organization dedicated to the preservation of Okinawan customs and traditions. Our membership is comprised of both Okinawans, Okinawan descendants and non-Okinawan members who share our love for the Okinawan culture.
There are about two hundred families in the Chicagoland area, and we also have many other members from other states like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and even California. Each year we have two primary gatherings in the Chicago area. The first one is to celebrate the traditional Chinese New Year which happens sometime in March and the second one is to gather for our annual Okinawa Kenjinkai picnic. Both events are huge hits with our membership due to the fellowship experienced and sharing of traditional Okinawan foods in the American “pot-luck” style.
Many of our members are also performers who participate in traditional cultural activities designed to keep the Okinawan culture alive in the Chicagoland area. The Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai offers its members the chance to learn Okinawan Karate, Ryukyu Dance, Sanshin, and Taiko drumming in the Ryukyu Eisa style. We have a Okinawan performing group for those who wish to show off the skills they have learned with us through performances we put on throughout the Chicagoland area.
Our Sanshin group teaches our members to play Sanshin (a three stringed lute) which is a traditional instrument in the Ryukyu islands. Taiko drumming in the Ryukyu Eisa style is dynamic and is fun to watch and learn. Our Odori dance group is the third group which strives to perfect the ability of our members in the art of traditional Okinawan dancing. All lessons are free to our members and members are encouraged to partake in these fun filled activities.
Then last but certainly not least we have a Fifth Dan Karate instructor which teaches our members Okinawan Shorin Ryu Karate at the Midwest Shotokan Dojo.
This year we will have the “Okinawa Inspiration” show on 6/3. Featuring the 1st time performance and collaboration of Sanshin, Karate, Eisa, Shishimai, Chimu Don Don (little children) & experienced variety of musicians.