The Center for Okinawan Studies held its inaugural conference at the Imin International Conference Center from March 19 to 21, 2009. The theme of the conference was “Where is Okinawan Studies Headed?” and it aimed to discuss various topics related to Okinawa/Okinawans, and to generate public discussions about the future of Okinawan Studies.
The conference began with addresses by three Keynote speakers: Dr. Gregory Smits of Pennsylvania State University, Professor Tomoaki Hara of Shizuoka University, and Professor Masanori Nakahodo of University of the Ryukyus. Each presented the history and current status of Okinawan Studies in North America, Japan and Okinawa respectively. A total of 33 speakers from Okinawa, mainland Japan, US mainland and Hawaii gathered to share their insights on various topics related to Okinawan studies. There was a total of about 250 registered participants in the audience.
The general public, as well as the academic specialists, had the opportunity to gather at brainstorming sessions and discuss how the Center could develop in the areas of “research,” “resources,” and “curriculum.” A performing arts exhibition of local Okinawan performers included performances of traditional Okinawan music and dance, as well as some contemporary and fusion music, to showcase the rich Okinawan performing arts in Hawaii. The conference ended successfully by bridging the academic and general communities, creating a space for intellectual information exchanges, and generating many ideas and suggestions to enhance the future of Okinawan Studies.