About Young Okinawans of Hawaii

Mission What We Do History What our logo Means

The Young Okinawans of Hawaii is a 501c Non-profit organization. We depend solely on our fund-raising efforts and through the generous donation of individuals such as yourselves. This enables our club to work towards our goals for the community and of course, our shared culture.

Your monetary donations can be sent to the below address.

The Young Okinawans of Hawaii
PO Box 30965
Honolulu, Hawaii 96820

Ippee Nifwe Debiru

The Young Okinawans of Hawaii is a non-profit association of individuals whose goals are:

- To stimulate interest in and promote learning about the history of Okinawa and its people
- To promote the preservation and perpetuation of the cultural heritage of Okinawa
- To provide social activities that will foster goodwill and friendship among its members.

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YOH remains very active throughout the entire year by accepting invitations to participate with Bon Dances all across the State, assisting with the annual Hawaii United Okinawan Association (“HUOA “) Okinawan Festival, coordinating the annual Senior Citizens Christmas Luncheon, doing fellowship projects with other HUOA clubs and encouraging and supporting members to pursue cultural performance activities, and participating with the HUOA Leadership Tour and Okinawa Student exchange programs. YOH has always emphasized participation in various cultural, social, athletic and service projects. YOH membership has included individuals representing all the professional fields, business owners, tradesmen, and highly recognized and accredited cultural and music instructors.

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In October 1980, 37 sansei (3rd generation immigrant) leaders were chosen by their local sonjinkais to participate in a Young Leadership Aloha Exchange Tour sponsored by the Okinawa Prefectural government. These individuals took this opportunity to meet relatives, form new friendships, and set foot upon the soil of their heritage. They returned to Hawaii with a renewed interest and affection for their Okinawan ancestors and culture.

This group, rejuvenated by their experience, decided to form an organization for young adults who shared an interest in Okinawan culture and heritage. The Young Okinawans of Hawaii ("YOH") believed that an organization which emphasized participation by the younger generation would promote comfortable social interaction and generate fresh ideas. These young leaders envisioned that its members would go on to provide leadership in their respective provincial HUOA clubs and continue to perpetuate the Okinawan spirit throughout the community.

Thanks to the efforts of many hard-working and dedicated members, the Young Okinawans of Hawaii is now almost 30 years old and has succeeded in providing fine leaders throughout the Okinawan community and attracting many interesting and talented new members. Throughout the past 30 years YOH has not forgotten the goals set forth by the charter members. The current members are committed to carrying on the responsibility to provide fellowship and leadership to any individual who shares YOH’s commitment to perpetuate the Okinawan history, culture and spirit here in Hawaii.

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Our Club’s Image – the Shisa
From Wikipedia

Shīsā (シーサー) (Okinawan: siisaa) (alternative spelling shishi or shisaa) is a traditional Ryukyuan decoration, often found in pairs, resembling a cross between a lion and a dog, from Okinawa mythology. Many people put a pair of shisa on their rooftops or flanking the gates to their houses. Shisa are wards, believed to protect from various evils. When found in pairs, the shisa on the left traditionally has a closed mouth, and the one on the right an open mouth. The open mouth to ward off evil spirits, and the closed mouth to keep good spirits in.
Originally pairs like these were called “shisa and guardian dogs”: the right with its mouth opened is the guardian, the left with its mouth closed is the shisa. Some people believe that one is male and the other is female, and provide various justifications for which is which; for example, “the female has her mouth shut as she should” or “the male has his mouth shut to hold in all the family’s good fortune”.

The shisa, like the koma-inu (lion dogs), is a variation of the guardian lions (“fu dogs”) from China. The shisaa, or lion dog, is an Okinawan cultural artifact. In magic typology, they might be also be classified as gargoyle beasts. They are traditionally used to ward off evil spirits.