Honolulu (KHON2) – Living808’s Okinawa Week is gearing up for this weekend’s Okinawan Festival with a look back at an historic event that laid the foundation for The Hawaii Okinawa Center.
“After the fierce Battle of Okinawa during WWII, the Okinawan community in Hawaii heard about the devastation in Okinawa and knew they had to help,” says Jon Itomura,
Executive Director, Hawaii United Okinawa Association. “They sent clothing, school supplies, medicine, but they knew that food was scarce and there were almost no pigs on the island. Pork was important part of the Okinawan diet and the Okinawan community in Hawaii raised $50,000 and arranged for 550 pigs to be shipped from the US to Okinawa.”
Itomura’s grandfather was one of the seven men who traveled over 3,000 miles and spent 28 days at sea, and the pigs arrived in Okinawa in September 1948. The event is known as “Pigs from the Sea.”
This was the galvanizing force to help unite the Okinawan community in Hawaii which led to the Hawaii United Okinawa Association (HUOA) and fundraising for The Hawaii Okinawa Center in 1990, which is now home to the HUOA and preserves the legacy and rich history of local Uchinanchu.
The 2021 Hawaii Okinawan virtual festival will air on the Hawaii United Okinawa Association’s youtube channel and facebook channel this weekend, 9/3 and 9/4, starting at 2pm.
If you are interested in helping HUOA with their mission, you can volunteer or make a donation.