Okinawan Festival 2019 Aug 31- Sep 1 Honolulu

Aug. 31, 9am-5pm
Aug. 31, 5:30pm-9:30pm – Bon Dance only. Select food booths will be open. All other booths/rooms will be closed.
Sep. 1, 9am-4pm

Hawaii Convention Center
1801 Kalakaua Ave.
Honolulu, Hawaii

1st floor – $2.00 per person (cash only)
FREE: Children 12 & under and Seniors 65+
FREE: Volunteers and entertainers
3rd floor – Free

Exhibit Floor & 3rd Floor 9:00am-4:00pm


Convention Center parking open from 7am, cost $10
Shuttle from McKinley High School begins at 7am. Roundtrip shuttle cost $3.

Go to the Hawaii United Okinawan Association festival site:

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Request for Information About Okinawan Surname ‘Za’

Marla Miyashiro says:
August 5, 2019 at 8:24 pm

My maternal grandmother’s last name was Za. She was reportedly from a place called Zyasu, somewhere near Tomigusuku in Okinawa. Could Za be a variant of Zaha, which you have on the list? My grandmother emigrated to Oahu in the early 1900s, and unfortunately we don’t know how Za was written in kanji.


Response from Jim (8/5/19 at 10:50 pm):

Hi, Marla. The only kanji for Za that I could find is 座 (hiragana ざ). Possible Romaji pronunciations Za, Jōyō, Jwa. I’ll add Za to our list of Okinawan surnames and hope that someone will have more information for you. I’ll also publish this as an article for greater visibility. Please keep me updated if you learn anything new. -Jim


Marla Miyashiro says:
August 5, 2019 at 11:12 pm

Thanks a lot, Jim! My mom once told me that my grandmother pronounced it more like “Zha,” as in Zsa Zsa Gabor’s name, but an aunt said it could also be pronounced “Ja.” So, it’s a mystery. I also wonder if Zyasu is the correct place name, since I couldn’t find it on a map. Maybe it was destroyed during the war.

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Researcher for PBS Series Looking for 1950s-60s A’ala Park Photos

Gena Hamamoto, archival researcher on a forthcoming 5-part PBS series on the history of Asian Americans, is looking for photos of A’ala Park in the 1950s-60s. She’s also interested in photos or footage of Chinatown during the ‘50s-60s, or even home movies during that era.  The series is co-produced by the Center for Asian American Media (CAAM), WETA and the Independent Television Service (ITVS), with Series Producer Renee Tajima-Peña.

Gena contacted Liuchiuan when she came across Rodney Inefuku’s “An Aala Street Story,” which includes historic photos of A’ala Park.

Gena Hamamoto, Patsy Takemoto Mink, and Emme Tomimbang Burns.

Gena is the director of  Typhoon of Steel (2013), a short community-based documentary film that explores the lives of two Okinawan American Kibei Nisei, Frank Seiyu Higashi and Takejiro Higa, who served in the U.S. military as linguists in the Battle of Okinawa during World War II.

“I would greatly appreciate it,” says Gena, “if you would reach out to your network regarding photos (or video/film footage would be amazing!) of A’ala Park in the 1950s-60s. To give you a little more context, one of the stories we’re working on is about Patsy Mink and Emme Tomimbang Burns. Emme was a young girl when she saw Mink campaigning in the park. So any photos of it during that era would be great, but we’d be thrilled to find any photos of political rallies, Mink campaigns, or people gathering in the park during that era.”

More from Rafu Shimpo (17 Jan. 2019): “Gena Hamamoto is a filmmaker and media arts educator. Her credits range from mainstream productions like ‘GLOW’ and ‘iZombie’ to notable independent documentaries such as ‘No Más Bebés’ and Asian American festival favorites like ‘The Crumbles.’ As an educator, the California-born Yonsei has worked with incarcerated youth, immigrant communities, and senior citizens. She also worked as assistant director for the UCLA Center for Ethno Communications program. A short trip to Okinawa sparked an interest in the Okinawan side of her family and she chose World War II’s Battle of Okinawa as the focus for her UCLA thesis project. Titled ‘Typhoon of Steel,’ the 19-minute documentary recalls the experiences of Frank Seiyu Higashi and Takejiro Higa, two Nisei who served as U.S. military linguists during the devastating campaign in their parents’ home islands.”

If you can help or provide leads, please contact Gena ( or post a comment in the discussion forum attached to this post.

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Jikoen Bon Dance 2019: July 19-20

Ukwanshin Kabudan 7/11/19 announcement shared by Rodney Inefuku 7/12/19:

The Bon Dance at Jikoen [731 N School St, Honolulu, HI 96819] offers Ukwanshin an opportunity to hold its annual fundraiser with a food booth that will feature an all-Okinawan menu. This is a good chance to sample authentic Okinawa cuisine outside of Okinawa. On the menu will be Kandaba Jūshi (rice soup with pork and sweet potato leaves), Uchinā Soba (noodle and pork dish) and a new item: Rafutē bowl (glazed, slow cooked pork with rice and condiments). Please come by to grab a bite to eat from the Ukwanshin booth.

Need to wear a yukata to join the bon dance? Yukata from Okinawa, handcrafted items, fruit preserves (jams) and pickled vegetable delicacies (tsukemono, takuwan) will be for sale at the Okinawa Hands-On fundraiser.

Performances by local cultural groups will be highlighted on both nights with all-Okinawan style bon dance on Saturday. Please join us!

Please observe Obon by taking some time to honor our ancestors. Learn more about Okinawa Obon by clicking on this link to the Young Okinawans of Hawaii website: Okinawa Obon

Uchinā soba. Photos are only approximation of actual food items available at the Ukwanshin Kabudan’s food booth. But all look good, yeah?


Kandaba jūshi.


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Former Soldier Stationed in Okinawa Supports Protesting Okinawans

Robert H. Stiver
Pearl City
Letter: U.S. Marines shouldn’t violate Okinawa bay
Star-Adv Letter to Editor, 5/1/19

As an Army-occupying-force member from 1966-72, who married a lovely Okinawan gal and moved my family to Hawaii in 1972, I read and re-read the article, “Younger Okinawans are more tolerant of U.S. military presence, study finds” (Star-Advertiser, April 21)1, with puzzlement and finally, dissatisfaction.

Older Okinawans would very naturally resent U.S. occupation because they managed to survive one of history’s most horrific wartime slaughters of civilians — and then endured (as did my wife as a young woman), for example, walking along a sidewalk and being groped by GIs in the 1950s-60s.  Continue reading

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Author Seeking Information About Ryūkyūan History 1880-1930

Last updated 4/23/19 11:38AM

Thomas Feldmann

Thomas Feldmann is writing a biographical book about Ankō Itosu (1831-1915), “one of the most important characters in the development of modern Karate.” As part of his research, he’s seeking answers or leads to two questions:

1. In the 1880s, when did Ryukyuan officials (scribe, Chikudun Pechin) usually retire from the Ryukyuan (later prefectural) government?

2. What was the usual life expectancy in the Ryukyus in 1910-1920?

3. Looking for a historical map of the Ryukyu Shuri area showing the different villages such a Gibo, Yamakawa, etc. On the web, there are some, but they cannot be used properly.

Please share information or leads with Feldmann. You can reach him at Or you can post responses or comments in the discussion section attached to this post.


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‘Allegiance – The Musical’ About WWII Japanese-American Internment March 28 – April 7, 2019


MARCH 28 – APRIL 7, 2019
a musical drama
book by Marc Acito, Jay Kuo and Lorenzo Thione
music by Jay Kuo


Inspired by true events, Allegiance is the story of the Kimura family, whose lives are upended when they and 120,000 other Japanese-Americans are forced to leave their homes following the events of Pearl Harbor. Sam Kimura seeks to prove his patriotism by fighting for his country in the war, but his sister, Kei, fiercely protests the government’s treatment of her people.

An uplifting testament to the power of the human spirit, Allegiance follows the Kimuras as they fight between duty and defiance, custom and change, family bonds and forbidden loves.  Continue reading

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Two Oahu Events Featuring Okinawa Gov. Denny Tamaki: March 23 (Forum) & 24 (Concert)

Saturday, 23 March 2019, 6:30 pm – 7:45 pm
Forum Featuring Yasuhiro “Denny” Tamaki
Windward Community College
45-720 Keaahala Road, Kaneohe, Oahu
Hawaii Hale ‘Akoakoa, Conference Rooms 101, 103, 105
Free and open to the public.

Governor Yasuhiro “Denny” Tamaki

Ukwanshin Kabudan is honored to welcome Yasuhiro “Denny” Tamaki, newly elected Governor of Okinawa Prefecture, to the 5th LooChoo Identity Summit. ʻImi ni Miru Uchinā” – Kukuru uchiawachi chibaranaya! “Our dreams for Okinawa joins our hearts together to go forward!” Keeping this thought in mind, Governor Tamaki graciously accepted Ukwanshin’s invitation to participate in this Summit. This is his first trip to Hawaii, and he is looking forward to meeting with the Hawaiʻi community to share what is happening in Okinawa.  Continue reading

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Who Is Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki?

Governor Denny Tamaki

Okinawa Governor Denny Tamaki will be meeting with Hawaii residents on March 21 at the Pagoda Hotel’s International Ballroom from 6:30-8:30 PM and on March 23 at Windward Community College from 6:30-7:45 PM. The events are free and open to the public. Governor Tamaki will be aided by an English translator. For a better idea of who he is, here are twenty facts about him:

1. He is the current Governor of Okinawa Prefecture.

2. He has long been opposed to the U.S. military presence in Okinawa. He is against the relocation of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma to another location in Okinawa, a position consistent with his late predecessor Onaga.

3. He was born in Uruma, Okinawa, on 13 October 1959, to an Okinawan waitress and a U.S. Marine father who left Okinawa before Tamaki was born.

4. He was born Dennis Tamaki (玉城 デニス Tamaki Denisu) but later changed his legal name to Yasuhiro Tamaki (玉城 康裕 Tamaki Yasuhiro) when he was 10 years old.

5. He never met his father. He attempted to search for him, but was unsuccessful.

Continue reading

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Meet Governor Tamaki of Okinawa: Pagoda Hotel Int’l Ballroom 3/21/19

Click image to view the PDF flyer.

Acknowledgment: Mahalo to Eric Wada and Ukwanshin Kabudan, Ed Kuba, and Rodney Inefuku for this notice.

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Meet Governor Tamaki of Okinawa: Windward CC 3/23/19

Click image to view the PDF flyer.

Acknowledgment: Mahalo to Eric Wada and Ukwanshin Kabudan, Ed Kuba, and Rodney Inefuku for this notice.

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Moreno Alie: Historical Bettelheim Issue May Offer Insights into Okinawa’s Current Plight

Editor’s note: This article is a reprint of a comment posted by Moreno Alie to “1850 British View of ‘Lewchew and the Lewchewans’” (Liuchiuan, 11 Oct. 2014) on 28 Nov. 2018. -Jim

By モレノ・アリー [Moreno Alie]

This article has served to satisfy my uncomfortable, itching curiosity about a dimension of Ryukyuan history that, as far as I can tell, remains relatively obscured. To disclose the source of my interest in this history, I must confess to once being one of the ‘entrenched’. Now long since departed, questions remain and a haunting irritation remains. For this reason, I read with interest and with gratitude for the author’s scholarship.

It was not till long after I left that I learned about Bernard Jean Bettelheim. The historical narrative I was able to piece together with my limited research skills struck me as incomplete. Does anyone besides myself find it incongruous that someone so notorious in Okinawa, and so obscure elsewhere, should be memorialized near the grounds of the (now destroyed) dwelling where he basically ‘squatted’ for so many unwelcome years? Further, am I the only one who is suspicious of his easy ingratiation with Commodore Perry later on?

My opinion is that the answers to these questions are not trivial, but may well offer the insights that can decisively open a way to resolving the contemporary conflict and dilemma that currently burden so many, not only in Okinawa, but beyond as well.

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‘The Okinawas: Their Distinguishing Characteristics’ – 27 March 1944

Last updated 10/7/18  5:00 PM

To read the PDF version of The Okinawas1: Their Distinguishing Characteristics, click the image below.

From the cover:

Okinawan Studies No. 2
The Okinawas: Their Distinguishing Characteristics
Office of Strategic Services
Honolulu, Hawaii
March 27, 1944

University of Hawaii Library


To read the PDF version of this book, “The Okinawas: Their Distinguishing Characteristics,” click this image.

The following introduces the “List of Okinawan Names and their Characters” in this book (pages 7-17), gathered from the Nippu Jiji Nekan (Honolulu, 1941) and Inagaki Kunizaburo’s Ryukyu ShowaContinue reading

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Videos: Okinawan Festival 2018 Honolulu

The Honolulu 2018 Okinawan Festival was held at the Hawaii Convention Center (Sep. 1 & 2) instead of Kapi’olani Park for the first time. I was concerned about the size of the center. Would it be able to accommodate all the exhibits, booths, performances? Would it be able to absorb the thousands of visitors and volunteers? How would it manage the bon dance? Would participants be able to kick back in beach chairs and relax? To get a sense of the size and layout, I decided to shoot a video with my GoPro. I was surprised by the size of the exhibition hall on the first floor. It’s huge. It would easily accommodate the bon dance, food booths, etc. I’m not sure about the comfort level, though, for a two-day, all-day event. Beach chairs and large coolers aren’t allowed, and there are no grassy areas and shade trees.

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Okinawan Festival 2018 Sep 1-2 Hawaii Convention Center

Floor 1 – click image to enlarge.

Floor 3 – click image to enlarge.


9:30 AM – Ryukyu Sokyoku Koyo Kai Hawaii Shibu
Derek Fujio, President & Sara Nakatsu, Vice President | Jane Kaneshiro Sozan Kai | Bonnie Miyashiro Soho Kai | Yamashiro Yoneko Sokyoku Kenkyu Kai | Yasuko Arakawa Aki no Kai | Sunny Tominaga Sokyoku Sanyuukai | Kazuko Ito Sokyoku Kyoshitsu

9:50 AM – Ryukyu Koten Ongaku Nomura Ryu Ongaku Kyokai Hawaii Shibu
Seiichi Yagi, Chapter President

10:10 AM – Hawaii Taiko Kai
Terry Higa, Instructor

10:35 AM – Opening Procession (HUOA Banners, Shishimai, Chondara)

10:45 AM – Paranku Club of Hawaii
Jane Tateyama, President

11:05 AM – Formal Opening Ceremony

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Events in Okinawa 2018: June 11 to Late August

There’s a lot to see and do in Okinawa during the summer. Here’s a great starter list that I found in Okinawa Stripes (6/10/18). I added a video (or photo when videos weren’t available) to each to give you a sense of the event or the location. If you’ve been to any of these places or participated in the events, please post a comment about your experiences. If you can think of other must-visit places to add to this list, share your suggestions in the comments section below. Thanks. -Jim

SEA WATER DREAM FESTIVAL: Jun. 10; Jun. 12 is set as Kume Island’s Deep Ocean Water Day (as the island’s water intake is from water depth 612 meters); deep ocean water item sales, Foot Cool event to experience the cold deep ocean water, etc.; venue TBD; free admission; 098-851-9162;

TOMARIIYUMACHI, FATHER’S DAY FISH FAIR-TUNA FESTIVAL: Jun. 16-17, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; free admission; 098-868-1096.

Continue reading

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Searching for Relatives of Haru Teruya

I received the following message from raquvar: Hello Jim. I wonder if there are any relatives of my grandmother, Haru Teruya, in Hawaii. I remember my mother telling me stories about Haru’s relatives that had emigrated to Hawaii and were in the hotel business. Haru married Akira Kudaka and left to Brazil in 1934. She had eleven children, one of them was my mother Keiko Hissataka.

My response: Hi, raquvar. I’m publishing your message as a post in Liuchiuan in hopes that someone will recognize your grandmother’s name and respond in the reply section below.

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Issei Immigration Genealogical Reference Service for Worldwide Uchinanchu

The Okinawa Prefectural Library set up an issei immigration genealogical reference service booth during the 6th Sekai Uchinanchu Taikai that took place from Oct. 27-30, 2016. The service searched 1st generation immigration records for information such as name in kanji, birthplace, travel date and even biography or photos if copies including those records were published. Many may not be aware that this service is ongoing for Uchinachu living abroad. (Important: Because of preparations for the new library, this service will not be available from April 2018 to approximately December 2018.) To take advantage of this service, fill out the attached application form and email it to or send it to:

Okinawa Prefectural Library
1-2-16 Yorimiya
Naha City, Okinawa Prefecture

Additional library contact information:
Telephone: 098-834-1218 (Japan domestic); 81-98-834-1218 (from overseas)
E-mail: (English available)

Click the image for a downloadable, printable PDF form.

Continue reading

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Searching for Shikina, Mayeshiro and Takushi Families in Okinawa

Message from Leilani Beardsley (5/29/18): I am trying to find Shikina, Mayeshiro and Takushi families in Okinawa

My response: Leilani, I’m publishing your comment as a post in hopes that those with information will respond. -Jim

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Seeking Information About Taira Surname and Haneji

Received from Anonymous 5/28/18: I’ve been trying to trace Taira family in Okinawa. My grandparents migrated in late 1800 or early 1900 to Hawaii, settling first in Kaneohe than in Kalihi. If you have any info, I’d appreciate. Growing up in Kalihi, I now live in California. We used to attend the Haneji picnics.

My response: Hi, Anonymous. You’re in luck. Rodney Inefuku, who publishes in Liuchiuan from time to time, writes prolifically about both topics: Taira and Haneji. See a few of his articles: Are the Taira in Okinawa Descendants of the Heike? 9/10/14, Haneji Community Center – Sometime After 1945 1/27/15, Okinawa’s Elevated Storehouses 10/12/14, Okinawan Festival 2014: Good Food, Good Friends, Good Fun 9/17/14, My Trip to Okinawa in March 2015 4/9/15, Okinawan and Japanese Boats 8/6/16. I’ll email and tip him off that you’re looking for information. Hopefully, he’ll be able to answer any specific questions that you might have. This is a possible conversation that most of us are interested in, so I hope you’ll talk story here in this forum. -Jim

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‘Ko-Ryukyu: The Dawn of Ryukyu’ 24 July 2018

Note: A big mahalo to my nephew, Derek Mukai, for this information. -Jim

Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko Hawaii is delighted to present “The Dawn of Ryukyu” on July 24, 2018, at the Hawaii Okinawa Center. This special event can be enjoyed by all ages and will feature a medley of Okinawan performing arts to tell the story of ancient Okinawa.

Performance Begins at 7:00 PM
Doors open at 6:30 PM
Early Entry for Preferred and VIP Guests at 6:00 PM

General Admission – $35 presale, $40 at the door
Preferred – $50
Preferred Seating includes early entrance at 6:00 PM, and preferred seating on a first come, first serve basis.
Reserved VIP – $100
Reserved VIP include early entrance at 6:00 PM, reserved seating, and an okashi gift box. In addition, with the purchase of each pair of tickets, a parking pass will be provided.

Ticket Request Form

Please contact us for information about personal or corporate sponsorships.

Melissa: (808) 282-2433

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Join ‘Okinawa Peace Appeal’: Facebook

Join the Okinawa Peace Appeal group on Facebook. Administrators are Shizuko Takasugi, Noriko Oyama, and Hideko Otake; moderator, John Decker. Their mission:

Okinawa Peace Appeal is a group of people concerned with Okinawan injustice. We organize events such as meetings in New York or Washington DC to voice our objections to the onging US Military occupation of the island and the forceful impostion of that occupation by the governenments of Japan and the US. This ongoing occupation of Okinawa since 1945 has resulted in thousands of violent and property crimes against the people of Okinawa by the military occupiers. Rape, murder and sexual assault against women has been particularly heinous among these crimes. As a result, Okinawa has been oppressed, suppressed, their voice has been marginalized, and a colonial mentality has been imposed on the people. In particular, we voice our strong opposition to the new US Marine Base being built in Henoko, Okinawa. We join in solidarity with other peace activists as we maintain our focus on the role the US bases in Okinawa play in a state of permanent war by the US.

Besides a very active publishing schedule, they provide English translations of information written in Japanese.

OPA Administrators and Moderator.

Ryukyu Shimpo (2/25/18): On February 24 in New York, once the demonstration has reached the front of Trump Tower, Okinawa Peace Appeal members call for Yamashiro’s acquittal and speak out against the Henoko base.

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Looking for Sueko Higa (Tobaru-cho, Shuri-shi)

Rodney Header
From: Colin Sewake (
Sent: Monday, February 19, 2018 2:00 PM
To: 瀬分 善久
Subject: Looking for Sueko Higa (Tobaru-cho, Shuri-shi)

Sueko Higa (Tobaru-cho, Shuri-shi)

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‘U.S. Militarization of Okinawa Not Pono’

Pete Shimazaki Doktor

Op-ed by Pete Shimazaki Doktor
Star-Advertiser, 7 Jan. 2018

I returned recently from a delegation of U.S. military veterans to Okinawa, to witness the devastation from the ongoing U.S. military occupation since 1945 — with construction of yet another military monstrosity in rural Henoko, despite the resistance by Okinawans for over 20 years via elections, lawsuits and non-violent civil disobedience.

Veterans for Peace members joined in the latter only to be dragged away with other local Okinawan elders by riot police from Japan.

PIXABAY – “What amazed me aside from the persistence of Okinawans demanding human rights, democracy and mutual respect for decades, are the indifferent justifications by Japan and the U.S. — from political representatives to entire communities,” writes Pete Shimazaki Doktor, co-founder of HOA (Hawaii Okinawa Alliance).

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‘Who Are the Okinawans?’

The following are excerpts from Nasrine Bendjilali et al., “Who Are the Okinawans? Ancestry, Genome Diversity, and Implications for the Genetic Study of Human Longevity From a Geographically Isolated Population,” The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, Volume 69, Issue 12, 1 December 2014, Pages 1474–1484.

 The earliest human remains in Japan (from the Yamashita site in Okinawa) date to about 30,000 years ago and are thought to be ancestors of the Jomon people, whose pottery appeared throughout the Japanese archipelago as far north as Siberia by about 13,000 years ago. New migrants, called the Yayoi people, arrived in Japan from the Korean peninsula about 2,000 years ago causing admixture of the two populations (19,23) but appearing not to have had a major genetic influence in outlying regions such as Okinawa or Hokkaido (21,22).   Continue reading

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‘Rikka, Uchinaa-nkai! Okinawan Language Textbook for Beginners’ (2017)

Last updated 3/25/19 10:55am

Click image or click here to view the 100-page book in PDF. While in PDF, you should be able to print a hardcopy version.

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Okinawan Festival 2017: Opening Ceremony

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Okinawan Festival 2017: Opening Procession

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Okinawan Festival 2017 Program

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Kutuu (Koto): A Story Told in English, Uchinaaguchi, & Nihongo

Rodney Header

I wrote this for the Uchinaaguchi “cause.” Note that there is a Japanese translation at the bottom. -Rodney Inefuku


By Rodney Inefuku
Uchinaaguchi translation by Toma Shisei of Yomitan, Okinawa

It was the first day of spring in Chicago.
Uree Chicago n jinu hajimityinu harunu kutuyaibitan.

I opened my window and felt the sunshine on my face.
Wannnee madu akiyaai chirankai wakanachinu tiida kanjitoibiitan.

I smiled.

The building next to my building had an open window.
Tunainu biru nu maduya achoiibitan.

Continue reading

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