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Okinawan-English Wordbook

by Mitsugu Sakihara
The Okinawan-English Wordbook, written by the late Mitsugu Sakihara, historian and native speaker of the Naha dialect of Okinawa, is an all-new concise dictionary of the modern Okinawan language with definitions and explanations in English. The first substantive Okinawan-English lexicon in more than a century, it represents a much-needed addition to the library of reference materials on the language. The Wordbook opens to lay user and linguist alike an area heretofore accessible almost exclusively in Japanese works and adds to the general body of scholarship on various Ryukyuan languages and dialects by providing a succinct but comprehensive picture of modern colloquial Okinawan.

The current work comprises nearly 10,000 entries, many with encyclopedic discussion, drawn from a wide variety of sources in addition to the author’s native knowledge and from numerous areas of interest, with emphasis on the cultural traditions of Okinawa. Entries reflect both contemporary Naha usage and archaisms and areal variants when these are of cultural, historical, or linguistic interest. Thus, in addition to being a comprehensive portrait of the modern Okinawan language, the Wordbook serves as an implicit introduction to the rich field of Japanese dialect studies.

Prefatory material discusses the phonology of Okinawan and the romanization scheme employed in the book, with particular attention to phonological features of the language likely to be unfamiliar to native English speakers and those acquainted only with Japanese. A general introduction to the conjugation of verbs and adjectives in Okinawan is made as well.

Mitsugu Sakihara (1928-2001) taught in the Department of History at the University of Hawai‘i in various capacities from 1971 to 2001 and was also professor and president of Hawaii International College.




Uchinaanchu Diaspora: Memories, Continuities, and Constructions

ed. by Joyce N. Chinen*

Social Process in Hawaii, No. 42
Distributed for the Department of Sociology, University of Hawai‘i

“Studies of Okinawa and Ryuukyuu were once considered marginal or, at best, esoteric topics to pursue within Asian Studies. However, with the rise of post-modern and post-colonial studies in the late-twentieth-century, and new patterns of globalization, consumerism, and imperialism in the twenty-first century, Okinawan Studies has become quite in vogue. . . . Unchinaanchu in Hawai‘i, one of the larger Okinawan diasporic communities, have become subjects of study by increasing numbers of researchers—from Okinawa and hondo (mainland) Japan, the continental U.S., and Oceania. Too often the results of those studies do not make it back to Hawai‘i, so there has been little opportunity for local Uchinaanchu to assess or learn about how researchers conceive of the Uchinaanchu in Hawai‘i.

“This volume represents an effort in community reflection. It looks at various aspects of the Uchinaanchu Diaspora, but mainly as it relates to Hawai‘i. It considers the social and cultural elements that Okinawan emigrants carried with them from their homeland of Uchinaa, the traditions and customs they maintained or continued to perpetuate and the new patterns, practices and organizations they constructed. It builds on the realization that the Uchinaanchu diasporic community in Hawai‘i is intimately connected to events, conditions and communities in Okinawa itself, as well as to other Okinawan diasporic communities.” —from the Preface




Uchinanchu: A History of Okinawans in Hawaii

by Center for Oral History (University of Hawai‘i); Hawai‘i United Okinawa Association,

Distributed for the Center for Oral History (University of Hawai‘i) and the Hawai‘i United Okinawa Association

“As a whole, the materials in Uchinanchu present an unprecedented wealth of information on Okinawans. In many respects, this book is really a reference work, but it is one which can be used by the public as well as scholars and which can easily be appreciated by non-Okinawans. . . This volume is the outcome of a substantial cooperative effort between an ethnic community and a university, a phenomenon which is unfortunately too rare. . . . The preparation and publication of Uchinanchu represents one ethnic group’s strong reaffirmation of pride in their ethnicity.” —Russell Endo, University of Colorado
“The real significance of Uchinanchu derives from its . . . fourteen issei life histories. . . . These interviews not only supply the raw material of history but their collection often rekindles a community interest in preserving their culture and history. It was a delight to read the conversations of these issei interviewees; for this reviewer, the oral texts held further meaning, of renewed acquaintances with old family friends and kinfolk. . . . The entire project was conceived first by the Okinawan community in Hawai‘i. The principal importance and interest of Uchinanchu to that community no doubt resides in the issei oral histories, and in the liberating realization that those ordinary lives form the basis for our collective historic past.” —Gary Y. Okihiro, Columbia University

Uchinanchu is the term used by Okinawan immigrants and their descendants in Hawai‘i to identify themselves as an ethnic group distinct from the Yamatunchu or Naichi of Japan’s four main islands. Though Japanese, linguistic and cultural differences as well as their late arrival in the islands made the Uchinanchu targets of Naichi prejudice in the past. Pressure from without and determination from within the group caused Hawai‘i’s Uchinanchu to pull together with pride in the face of adversity.
Some 25,000 men, women, and children left their impoverished Okinawan homeland between 1900 and 1924, hoping for a better life in Hawai‘i. Their early experiences were marked by hard, lean years on sugar and pineapple plantations. In this book, eighty- and ninety-year-old issei, first generation immigrants, describe through interviews what it was like to pull up roots in their homeland and make new lives in the islands.
The story of the gradual development and progress of the Okinawan community is unfolded through articles on labor, religion, culture, business, agriculture, government, son (village) clubs, and community-wide organizations.
Uchinanchu supports and promotes pride in the culture, history, and contributions of Okinawans in Hawai‘i. It also adds another chapter to our understanding of Hawai‘i’s rich, diverse, multi-ethnic heritage.
56 illus.




Editorial Reviews

Okinawa: Cold War Island

edited by Chalmers Johnson

On September 4, 1995, three American servicemen abducted and raped a twelve-year-old schoolgirl in Okinawa. The reaction to that rape throughout Japan and around the world mobilized otherwise inattentive people to the persistence of Cold War-type relationships in East Asia– particularly to the presence of 100,000 American troops– and started to end the artificial distinction between economics and security in relations between the United States and its trading partners in East Asia. It also caused some observers to begin to see Okinawa not simply as Japan’s poorest prefecture but also as an American colony located on Japanese soil.

Okinawa and its role in the Cold War is hidden history for most Americans and Japanese. It was the scene of the last and bloodiest battle of World War II and was occupied by the American military until 1972. Since then it has remained the site of some 39 American military bases located in close proximity to the 1.29 million people of Okinawa.

This book offers a pioneering selection of essays on the Battle of Okinawa, forced emigration of Okinawans to Bolivia, Okinawan identity, the rape incident and the rekindling of Okinawan protest against the bases, the U.S.-Japan Security Treaty, economic development in Okinawa, the environmental degradation of Okinawa, and the Clinton administration’s deceptive promises to the Okinawans. Authors include former governor of Okinawa prefecture Masahide Ota, the editor of The Ryukyuanist Koji Taira, the pioneer writer on Okinawans in Bolivia Kozy K. Amemiya, one of the founders of Okinawa Women Act Against Military Violence Carolyn Bowen Francis, the leading American scholar of Okinawan literature Steve Rabson, journalists Mike Millard, Shunji Taoka, and Patrick Smith, and professors Gavan McCormack, Masayuki Sasaki, and Chalmers Johnson.