Introduction in the Okinawa Times “Weekly Okinawa Karate”
On Sunday, June 16th, our information center was introduced in the “Weekly Okinawa Karate” (No. 116) of the Okinawa Times newspaper. Below, we offer a translation of the article.
Okinawa Times “Weekly Okinawa Karate” (No. 116)
Training in the birthplace – Connecting the world
Two years since the opening of the Okinawa Karate Information Center
A “bridge” to dōjō for karate enthusiasts
Matching is increasing: 177 projects during fiscal year 2018
(Publication date: Sunday, June 16, 2019)
There is a support entity that responds to karate enthusiasts from outside the prefecture and foreign countries who “want to learn karate in the birthplace of karate, Okinawa.” It is the “Okinawa Karate Information Center” located inside the Okinawa Karate Kaikan in Tomigusuku City. Two years have passed since its establishment. Since then, it has been responsible for bridging karate enthusiasts with dōjō and instructors, and providing information on Okinawa karate. We asked Mr. Uehara Kunio, director of the center, and Mr. Miguel Da Luz, in charge of public relations, about the role and results of the center and its future. (Local news department, Toguchi Masashi)
Inexistent so far, the center was opened in 2017 as a prefectural window to welcome karate enthusiasts of the world. Receiving commission from the Karate promotion division of the prefecture, the Okinawa Dentō Karatedō Shinkōkai is managing its operation; three persons in charge are doing work such as public relations and guidance.
The main task is matching dōjō with enthusiasts who want to learn karate, as well as broadcasting information on karate through event information and feature articles published on the official website (HP), and coordinating media reportages among others. The center’s head, Mr. Uehara said: “We are striving to help karate enthusiasts and make local people feel proud of the birthplace of karate.”
Matching between enthusiasts and dōjō increased from 130 projects (354 people) in fiscal year 2017 to 177 projects (681 people) in fiscal year 2018. In addition to foreign countries such as the United States, China and France, there are also requests from mainland Japan. Some 85 dōjō and instructors from the prefecture have welcome these karate enthusiasts.
■ Taking fairness and impartiality into consideration
“The karate stories that they share can be greatly expanded by learning in the birthplace Okinawa.” Director Uehara believes that there is a romance in Okinawa karate. He stresses: “By transmitting these stories at home, karateka who hear these stories will come again to Okinawa. I would like to create such a cycle and support them”.
In the process of connecting karate enthusiasts and dōjō, the center pays attention to not being biased towards a particular style or school, implementing fair and impartial matching.
On the official website of the center, applicants can choose a style, dōjō or instructor through a questionnaire that they answer. In case they do not know which school to learn from, the center offers some support. “Overseas, there are many seminars available regardless of affiliation. We offer various explanations including among others tuition fee payment” said Miguel Da Luz.
■ Accumulation of know-how
We also receive inquiries about “Budō Tourism” such as travel products and seminars. However, this center is a non-profit organization; in case it is hard to determine how far it can get involved, the center consults with the OPG Karate promotion division and then acts.
Director Uehara and Miguel Da Luz both point out that from now on, it is necessary to make the best of the know-how accumulated by the center. They powerfully concluded saying “by not leaving information transmission and related products creation in the hands of agencies, karateka could create the environment they long for.”
(Photograph explanation) Mr. Uehara Kunio, Director of Okinawa Karate Information Center (left), Mr. Miguel Da Luz (top right) in charge of public relations, and coordinator Ms. Kinjo Mika. In Tomigusuku City.
(Photograph explanation) A group from Switzerland that visited Okinawa. Okinawa Shōrin-ryū Karatedō Association Shidōkan Maeshiro Morinobu sensei (left) instructed. Photo provided by the Okinawa Karate Information Center.
(Photograph explanation) Dōjō matching numbers of the center.