1986, an ambitious campaign to raise funds to build the Hawaii Okinawa
Center was introduced to the public. Heading this campaign was Albert
T. Teruya, co-founder of Times Supermarket, Ltd. and serving as
Honorary Chairperson was Lynne Waihee, First Lady of the State of
ranging from $2 to $700,000 poured in from individuals, clubs, businesses,
corporations and foundations. Over nine million dollars was raised
to erect the Center, five million of which was raised through the
efforts of our member clubs.
the commitment, support and belief of over 5,000 donors the Hawaii
Okinawa Center was built on 2.5 acres in Waipio Gentry. Designed
by architect Maurice Yamasato, our Center features two buildings
in the shape of a turtle, which, in Okinawan culture, symbolizes
long life. Traditional Okinawan kawara clay tiles, a gift from the
people of Okinawa, line the roofs of both buildings. Two beautifully
landscaped gardens grace the Center. Maintained by dedicated volunteers,
the gardens provide a beautiful backdrop for weddings, family gatherings
and peaceful thought.
Albert T. and Wallace T. Teruya Pavilion, named for the founders
of Times Supermarket, Ltd., is a multifunctional auditorium/theater
and banquet hall featuring a theater stage and professional lighting
and sound systems. The Teruya Pavilion is the setting for many cultural
performances, conferences, ceremonies, banquets and receptions.
Last year, the Pavilion, also known as the Legacy Ballroom, hosted
our Children’s Summer Day Camp, our Kariyushi Variety Program, which
honors our senior entertainers, many Okinawan concerts and our RedDirt
Yeiko and Kameko Higa Building, named in memory of the Issei parents
of Charles and Francis Higa, founders of Zippy’s restaurants, houses
the administrative offices of the HUOA, a display area for Okinawan
artifacts, historical and cultural materials, a library of books
on Okinawa and things Okinawan and a gift shop. Classes held in
this building include uchinaaguchi (Okinawan language), ikebana
(flower arrangement), sanshin and taiko.
Okinawa Center stands as a living, thriving community center, museum
and theater where the Okinawan culture is preserved, promoted and
perpetuated for future generations. It takes many volunteers and
donors to run and sustain the Center and its programs. For the past
several years, the HUOA has struggled to meet the daily financial
challenges facing the Hawaii Okinawa Center. Our annual fund drive
“Preserving Our Legacy,” Okinawan Festival, craft fairs, rental
income, donations, and special events have allowed the association
to maintain the Hawaii Okinawa Center, the HUOA programs and staff.