Symposium in Honor of the 1st Anniversary of Amami Oshima’s Registration as a Natural World Heritage Site
On Sunday, January 22, 2023, Uken Village hosted a symposium co-organized by Kagoshima Prefecture in honor of the first anniversary of Amami Oshima’s registration as a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site along with the islands of Tokunoshima, Iriomote, and Northern Okinawa. After the symposium, Uken held its own celebration, which included a singing contest and fireworks.
The opening act of the symposium was a dance performed by the Oshima High School dance club. This award-winning performance expresses the multifaceted kenmun, a creature of Amami folklore. Similar to the Okinawan kijimuna or Japanese kappa, the kenmun is known for its love of banyan trees and for causing mischief.
Following the opening act, there were greetings from Shiota Koichi, the Governor of Kagoshima Prefecture, and Motoyama Akira, the Mayor of Uken Village. The people of Amami Oshima and Kagoshima are especially proud of the UNESCO registration. They promise to continue their efforts to maintain and protect the island’s nature.
In the latter half of the event, wildlife researcher and member of the river restoration and forest management task force, Mr. Hattori, gave a presentation on Mt. Yuwandake, a sacred mountain teeming with ancient wildlife and rare species. Then, he led a talk session with representatives from all across Amami Oshima to discuss their work and how they plan to continue their efforts for Amami’s future.
One of the highlights of the event was a performance by two former Takarazuka members. Singing, dancing, and even a costume change awaited the excited fans who had been waiting for this moment. The audience clapped and waved commemorative fans (uchiwa) as the performers walked down the aisle, bringing joy to everyone they passed.
Overall, the people of Amami wish to protect their home and all of the creatures that also call it home. People of all ages express their love for the island by having pride in their work, learning about its nature, and sharing their knowledge with others. Fireworks light up the sky, concluding the 1st Anniversary Heritage Symposium for Amami Oshima.