Interview with the new director of the Kaikan
When the Okinawa Karate Kaikan opened on March 4, 2017, the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau was designated as the managing body for three years. As of April 1st, 2020, a new consortium is acting as designated manager of the kaikan. Named “Okinawa Karate Promotion Vision Promotion Partners” (OKP), this consortium is a joint venture between Okinawa Tourist Co., Ltd. (OTS), Okinawa Building Management Co., Ltd., Nishihara Farm and Seika Sports Center Co., Ltd.
Nakamura Yasushi, Executive Vice President of Okinawa Tourist, has become the new head of the management office of the Okinawa Karate Kaikan. From this year, it has been decided that the director will also be referred to as “Kanchō – director”.
Born in Nago in 1960, Mr. Nakamura joined OTS in 1985. He has traveled to more than 30 countries as a tour operator and has also been involved in the rental car business for many years. This time, we interviewed him as the new Kanchō of the Okinawa Karate Kaikan.
Nakamura Kanchō in front of the Shuri Castle tapestry in the newly open Karate Cafe “AGARI”
How did you become a designated administrator of the Okinawa Karate Kaikan?
OTS aims at developing local resources with a tourism approach. Mr. Nakamura explains that OTS wishes to improve the local culture and make it worth the experience for the people who visit and experience this culture. Under such initiatives, OTS has developed tours relating to traditional events such as the harvest festivals etc. As a result, Mr. Nakamura explains that these events have become more active, and the organizers and youth associations have become more energetic.
Karate is an Okinawan culture that cannot be described separately from performing arts, dance, and awamori among others. However, karate is a keyword in a sense, and is a “killer content” for Okinawa and its tourism industries.
Nakamura Kanchō hopes that the Okinawa Karate Kaikan will be used as a transmission base for “Okinawa, the birthplace of karate” and also for the transmission of Okinawan culture in general, thus attracting many tourists and creating a new sightseeing path.
Management concepts and important points
Based on the combination of cultural values and inheritance of “the birthplace of karate, Okinawa” and the needs of the times, Mr. Nakamura emphasizes that he wants to promote the related businesses of the Karate Kaikan according to four themes: “Creation”, “Fostering”, “Exchange” and “Life”.
In addition, he believes that proper guidance within the Kaikan is important as it is a large facility.
“The many visitors to the Kaikan are looking for a wide range of services. Some want to see the exhibition room, some want to use the training halls, and other are looking for information on karate. We need to clarify the role of each entity and respond to the various requests and needs in a smooth way. In that matter, the Okinawa Dentō Karatedō Shinkōkai and the Okinawa Karate Information Center have an important role to play.”
Thoughts on the future management
Mr. Nakamura points out that “Three of the four companies of the consortium will be primarily involved with the Kaikan’s supervision, but OTS will also work on ‘attracting visitors’. Although the role of a designated manager and a travel agency is different, only supervising would be difficult. Managing the Kaikan is the most important part.”
Mr. Nakamura wishes to operate the Karate Kaikan with the aim of improving “occupancy rates” and installing a “sound management.”
The Karate Kaikan is the base and center of karate as well as the symbol of “Okinawa, the birthplace of karate”. “We will not let the axis shake, but wish to widen the scope. It’s important for the Okinawan people and tourists to visit the Kaikan.”
Mr. Nakamura believes that “the Karate Kaikan will spread and develop by being close to the lives of the people of the prefecture and by becoming an important destination for tourists”.
He plans of establishing the Kaikan as the home of karate both physically and virtually both nationally and internationally, while also creating various menus for residents and tourists.
“Soon we will start a series of tours around the kaikan. At the same time, we are planning to become a destination for schools’ excursions for Okinawan elementary, junior and senior high school students. In addition, we are preparing health seminars with Ikehara Hideki sensei Okinawa Traditional Karate Gōjū-ryū Ikehara Juku. Later on, we will offer programs for tourists” explains Mr. Nakamura.
As the words of Louis Pasteur hung at the Kaikan say, “Chance favors only the prepared minds.”
Nakamura Kanchō working on the management of the Kaikan in the management office
Postscript: Nakamura Yasushi is the grandson of the founder of Okinawa Kempō, Nakamura Shigeru sensei (1891-1969). Born in 1934, his father Nakamura Taketo sensei still watches the Nakamura Dōjō in Ōnaka, Nago City.