Last updated 2/07/15, 6/5/15
Liuchiuan is a not-for-profit blog for information that I’m gathering about Okinawans and Okinawa, their history and culture, past and present. It seeks to answer the question, Who are the Okinawans? I’ll be sharing information as I discover it, and I’ll be covering a wide range of topics in no set order.
Guest posts are welcomed. Submissions should be related to Okinawa and Okinawans, and the preferred style is informal and conversational. Preference will be given to pieces that have not been previously published. See my email address below. A brief bio, one or two lines, and a photo are also encouraged. If you send me the address to a web photo (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), I can capture it.
Variations on the spelling of Ryukyu include: Luchu, Loochoo, Lewchew, Liukiu, and Riukiu. For the naming of this blog, I chose George H. Kerr’s spelling, Liuchiu, in “Sovereignty of the Liuchiu Islands,” Far Eastern Survey, 14.8 (25 Apr. 1945), pp. 96-100.
Kerr’s Okinawa: The History of an Island People (Tuttle, 1958), is the definitive history (in English) of Okinawa. The complete first edition is available online here.1 A more contemporary English source is John Michael Purves’s The Ryukyu-Okinawa History & Culture Website.
My interest in Okinawans and Okinawa is personal. I’m sansei, 3rd generation Japanese-American. My paternal and maternal grandparents immigrated to Hawaii from Okinawa to work on plantations. Both my parents were born in Hawaii but went to Okinawa as children, for schooling, and returned to the U.S. as young adults. Thus, they were kibei, nisei (2nd generation) born in the U.S. but educated in Japan. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, my father was arrested and detained in the Sand Island stockade. A few months later, he, my mother, and my new-born sister were sent by ship to the mainland and by train to the Jerome, Arkansas, relocation center. Later, they were moved to the Tule Lake center in Northern California, where I was born toward the end of the war. After their release, they returned to Hawaii.
This blog was started on 21 June 2013.
The image in the blog header (top of the main page) is from an illustration of the Ryukyuan mission in Edo c. 1710.
You can reach me (Jim Shimabukuro) by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
1 Kerr’s book is in the public domain: “Public Domain or Public Domain in the United States, Google-digitized: In addition to the terms for works that are in the Public Domain or in the Public Domain in the United States above, the following statement applies: The digital images and OCR of this work were produced by Google, Inc. (indicated by a watermark on each page in the PageTurner). Google requests that the images and OCR not be re-hosted, redistributed or used commercially. The images are provided for educational, scholarly, non-commercial purposes. Note: There are no restrictions on use of text transcribed from the images, or paraphrased or translated using the images.”
Great website. My grandparents were born in Okinawa, came to Hawaii and worked in the sugar plantation on the Big Island. They returned to Okinawa and died before the war. My father was born in Hawaii. I just visited Okinawa for the first time to find out more about my culture and my grandparents hometown. I plan to go back there again. Love Okinawa!
Aloha, Charlene. My apologies for the delay in responding. For some reason, comments in the “about” page don’t show up in the list of “recent comments” in the sidebar. Thanks for the kind words. Seems like we share a lot in common re our grandparents and parents. I’ve never been to Okinawa and know very little about our relatives there. I never met my dad’s parents. My mom’s parents immigrated to Oahu from Okinawa, and she was born here. While her parents and siblings remained in Hawaii, she was sent to Okinawa for schooling. She returned as a young woman, before the war. As a kibei, she spoke very little English, so she and my dad, who was also kibei, were a good match. Thus, I grew up in a home where Japanese was the everyday language. Until they passed away, their preferred language was Nihongo. If you enjoy writing, please consider submitting articles for publication in this blog. Use your interests, explorations, and discoveries as a rough guide for topics. I’m sure others would be fascinated to read about your experiences and observations in Okinawa.
Great website. Thank you for helping us Uchinanchus in diaspora understand more about our heritage. My folks were born in Okinawa (Itoman/Ie-Jima), displaced to Bolivia and then to Argentina where I was born and eventually we ended up in Los Angeles. Is the sad legacy of war and colonialism. Constant shifting and remaking of one’s identity is the reality of children in diaspora. Thank you
NatalieNatalia, and thank you for the kind words. Uchinanchu are spread out all over the world, and in the U.S., we’re in nearly every state. The web has been a godsend in bringing all of us together to explore and discuss our common heritage. When you have the time, please considering submitting an essay on your family’s history and your thoughts on being Okinawan. Take care.
Please enjoy. https://www.youtube.com/user/wbm2012
Blackie-san, thank you for sharing the link to your multimedia creations on YouTube. It’s a historical treasure trove of photos and videos for anyone wanting to learn more about Okinawa through the lens of a photographer and videographer who has devoted the better part of a lifetime capturing the spirit and soul of a people. I also explored your Facebook page. In your work and social media pages, you provide resources that are priceless. There was so much, I didn’t know where to begin. I finally decided to dig in on Commodore Matthew Perry’s published report: Narrative of the expedition of an American squadron to the China Seas and Japan: performed in the years 1852, 1853, and 1854, under the command of Commodore M.C. Perry, United States Navy, by order of the Government of the United States. I’ll be extracting and cleaning up the sections on Lew Chew. After I’m done, I’ll post it. I’m also planning to follow up with posts on some of your videos. If the videos are mirrored on YouTube, I’d like to have your permission to embed some of them in this blog, Liuchiuan. If that’s not possible, then I’ll provide links to your site. Once again, thank you for making your personal resources available to people the world over who are either Uchinanchu or Uchinanchu at heart. -Jim
This is Ayano Uema’s ‘Satokibi Batake (sugarcane field)’ Uchinaaguchi full version. You posted a video of its shorter version. Somehow I can’t commemt there, so allow me to post the link here.
Thank you so much for posting videos of the
Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival, 2016. I did not attend so this was great to view. All I can say is “I wish I was there”.
Your site has been so useful as I research my family history. My family name is Kina and it looks like my great grandfather resided in Nakadomari-muri, Onna-magiri before he left to Mexico in 1904. I’m trying to find the origin or history of the Kina surname, but I haven’t been very successful. Do you have any recommendations that might be useful in my research??
Hi, Henry. Thank you for your kind words. Hopefully some of our readers will be able to shed some light on your surname, Kina. I do know that it’s a famous name in terms of folk rock music via Shoukichi Kina’s “Hana.” His “The Music Power From Okinawa” album is currently on YouTube. When you learn more about your name, please share the info with us. -Jim
P.S. There are two kanji for “Kina”: 喜名 and 喜納. The area associated with the first is Okinawa; with the second, Okinawa and Miyako.
I’ll have to check out Shoukichi’s music. Thanks for sharing. Also, when I reached out to the Okinawan Geneological Reference Service they confirmed that the kanji for my family surname is 喜納. They also provided useful historical information about my great-grandfather and his family back in Okinawa. I’m currently attempting to apply for a koseki using the information I have about my grandfather. My challenge is now to establish a blood connection with documentation. Unfortunately, because of the anti-Asian sentiment, which also existed throughout Mexico, finding records of my great-grandfather that are linked to my grandfather and father is proving to be difficult. I’m still hopeful. Thanks again for your help and your work is greatly appreciated. Henry
Could I ask what is is grandfather’s first name? Kanji if available?
Hi Al – my great grandfather’s name was Kansui Kina (喜納 水). He travelled to Mexico with his brother Tadatoshi Kina (喜納 忠利).
My grandfather was later born in Coahuila, Mexico but was given a Spanish surname as a result of the anti-Asian sentiment at the time.
My great father’s name was Kansui Kina (喜納 水) and his brother’s name wasTadatoshi Kina (喜納 忠利).
My grandfather was given a Spanish surname because of the anti-Asian sentiment at the time. His name was Geronimo Rodriguez.
My great grandfather’s name didn’t copy correctly. Here’s the correct kanji Kansui Kina (喜納 観水).
Hi Henry, if you send me your email, I can send you a little more information about your grandfather.
Henry, if you give me your email, I can send you some additional information.
Al – my email is email@example.com. Thank you!!! Henry
FYI, new Okinawan database just went on-line.
FYI a new version of the database is available with links to many genealogical resources.
FYI new version of the database went on-line. Also has links to genealogical resources.