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

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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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Alfredo Casero & Kazufumi Miyazawa: ‘Shima Uta’

Last updated 6/3/17 6:58am

“Alfredo Casero // Shima Uta en Japón,” YouTube, uploaded by aeroder flax on 6/18/15.

Alfredo Casero, an Argentine musician, actor and comedian, recorded “Shima Uta” in 2002, the first single from his album, Casaerius. His cover of the song written and recorded by Miyazawa Kazufumi in 1993, who was with the band “The Boom” at the time, became a huge hit in Argentina, where it was chosen as the anthem for the national football team to represent the country at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan. In this video, both Casero and Miyazawa share the stage at the 2002 FIFA World Cup in Japan (Wikipedia).

Casero, Miyazawa, Oshiro 2

Casero, Miyazawa, and Japanese-Argentine folk singer Claudia Oshiro performed “Shima Uta” at the 53rd Kōhaku Uta Gassen on New Year’s Eve 2002.I’m not sure if this photo and the one below are from that particular performance.

Casero, Miyazawa, Oshiro 3

Casero, Miyazawa, and Oshiro receiving a rousing ovation.

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Hogen Coffee Shop to Perpetuate Uchinaaguchi?

Rodney HeaderHere is an idea for perpetuating Uchinaaguchi in Okinawa. Try to have Hogen (Uchinaaguchi) coffee shops in every town in Okinawa where anyone who wants to speak, learn, or practice it is welcome. The purpose is to create an environment for speaking the language. These coffee shops are identified by a special sign (perhaps a yellow flower symbol) to be placed outside so people passing by will know.

All who come to these Hogen coffee shops try to speak Uchinaaguchi to each other. Bring the ojisans and obasans, so we can hear their stories of the old days. If customers (first time) cannot understand Uchinaaguchi, then Japanese is spoken, but they are encouraged to listen, learn, and speak Uchinaaguchi. When they leave, they are encouraged to return to continue their learning. “It’s all love” is the attitude there.

Those who speak fluent Uchinaaguchi wear a particular colored sleeveless jackets (or t-shirt) to identify them as experts. They are offered free coffee, tea, juice, or soft drinks. They circulate from table to table to speak or teach Uchinaaguchi. They don’t work there. They can come and go as they please. Their sole purpose is to help perpetuate the language.  Continue reading

Posted in Culture, Language, Op-ed, Shimakutuba, Uchinaaguchi | 2 Comments

Ukwanshin Kabudan: January & March 2017

Rodney Header
From: Eric Wada

Okinawan New Year Celebration/ Lunar New Year January 28th

This year, the lunar New Year falls on Saturday, January 28th, which begins the year of the Rooster! Come join us for traditional Okinawan dances, music, lots of food and fun!

Jikoen Hall 6:00pm.
$20 adults
$10 children 4-12yrs, and seniors 80years and older

More information will be available very soon for the conference! If you are interested, want to register, or have any questions, please email

3rd LooChoo Identity Conference March 17-19

Save the dates! March 17-19, 2017, for the 3rd LooChoo Identity Conference to be held on O`ahu, Hawai`i. This conference brings together Shimanchu from all over and all ages, to share, discuss and discover a deeper understanding of Ryukyuan Identity through lively presentations and discussions. Come and meet others who are looking to become more connected with their roots.  Continue reading

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Norman Kaneshiro: Sanshin, Song, & Talk – 12/11/16 EWC 2-3pm

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Hi All,

Hope you all can find time between Christmas shopping to stop over at the East-West Center gallery this Sunday to listen to me talk and sing. The event is titled “Mimi-gusui: Life Sustenance Through the Ears” and will be from 2-3 pm this coming Sunday, December 11. Here is the link to the event/location.

Norman Kaneshiro, singing and playing the sanshin.

Norman Kaneshiro, singing and playing the sanshin.

I will be performing traditional Okinawan songs that help to remind us of important values our culture teaches us that can help guide us through troubled and uncertain times. Hope to see you there. -Norman Kaneshiro

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Robert Walker’s ‘Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands’ — Review

Rodney HeaderThe next time I visit Okinawa, I am taking Robert Walker’s Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands along with me. If anything, because in the back of the book, tucked in a cover, is a large beautiful folded map of the various island groups that make up the Ryukyu islands, including a detailed full map of the main island of Okinawa. On this folded map are also detailed maps of of Naha city, the Motobu peninsula, and the southern part of the main island of Okinawa.

rwalker02Robert Walker lived in Okinawa for 15 years, and during that time he visited every island from Kyushu to Yonaguni island (Yonagumijima) off the coast of Taiwan. He toured each island to see what the island was like, what life was like, and met many of the people who lived on the island. His observations and experiences are documented in this book. He talks about things that everybody knows about — and things that you may not know about. This is a very comprehensive and interesting book.

For instance, I always thought that Okinawa should look into the possibility of raising cattle to produce premium beef similar to Kobe beef. Via personal correspondence, I shared this thought with Mr. Walker, saying that the islands were perfectly suited for it. Mr. Walker wrote back and said that Okinawa already does that. “Look in my book. It’s called Ishigaki beef.”

Mr. Walker’s book begins with the Osumi Islands up north, just below Kyushu, and works all the way down to Yonaguni Island, Takara Islands, Amami Islands, main island of Okinawa, Miyako Islands (which Ishigaki Island is a part of), Yaeyama Islands (which Yonaguni island is a part of). No island is left out unless it happens to be only as large as your front yard. It even includes the islands east of Okinawa and west of Okinawa, the Kerama Islands and the Daito Islands.

There is a wonderful abundance of beautiful maps inside the book. For instance, in the beginning, there is an overall map of the Satsunan Islands. And then a more localized map of the Osumi Islands with a detailed discussion of each island in the group with beautiful photos accompanying the discussion.

Localized maps of the Tokara Islands and the Amami Islands are followed by discussions of each island in the respective group with many accompanying photos. This goes on for each group mentioned above. There are many maps like these throughout the book and many photos accompanying the discussion of each section.

You can tell that this was indeed Robert Walker’s labor of love. I sincerely believe that anyone who is planning to visit Okinawa should get a copy of his book. It might make you curious enough to go visit an island other than Okinawa and Yaeyama Islands. I found Amami-Oshima and Yakushima to be interesting and might even try to visit them someday.

Here is a very moving video about a giant Japanese cedar tree, the Jomon Sugi, on Yakushima just south of Kyushu.

If you are interested in getting Robert Walker’s Okinawa and the Ryukyu Islands, I believe it is available in the bookstore at the Okinawan Center in Waipio. If you cannot get there, the book is available on If you happen to be in the Little Tokyo area of LA, or Japantown in San Francisco, Seattle, or NYC, or Shinjuku, Tokyo, or even Singapore, you might want to check out the Kinokuniya bookstores. Or you can wait for the next Honolulu Okinawan Festival. Robert Walker will surely be there to autograph it.

Posted in Book, International, Publication, Review, Travel | 2 Comments

Uchinanchu Taikai 2016 Videos – Oct 28

161028NEWS▽ウチナーンチュの日制定への思い▽今月のキングス振り返り (ヨシオバー2 102816)

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Uchinanchu Taikai 2016 Videos – Oct 27

[updated 12/11/16]
161027NEWS▽世界のウチナーンチュ大会開会式!▽メイン会場の熱気を中継 (ヨシオバー2 102716)

第6回世界ウチナーンチュ大会 開会式 (琉球新報 102716) [6th World Uchinanchu Taikai Opening Ceremony, 21min]

Uchinanchu Festival 2016 Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko (CESAR AUGUSTO VELIZ FERNANDEZ 102716)

世界のウチナーンチュ大会 開会式 フィナーレのエイサー 20161027 sekai uchinanchu eisa (EverydayEisa 102716)

世界のウチナーンチュ大会2016 前夜祭バレード UTINANCHU FESTIVAL Festival Eve Parade [USA] (那覇国際通り) (okinawamovie 102716)

chuningcandy 2016.10.27 世界のウチナーンチュ大会 (すずきとおる 102716) [chuningcandy is a girls’ group comprising junior high and high school girls]

第6回 世界のウチナーンチュ大会 前夜祭パレード ペルー (shin3maniaTV 沖縄冒険編 102716) [6th Worldwide Uchinanchu Taikai Eve Parade Peru]

第6回 世界のウチナーンチュ大会 サンフランシスコ県人会のエイサー (shin3maniaTV 沖縄冒険編 102716) [6th Worldwide Uchinanchu Taikai Eve Parade San Francisco Kenjinkai]

第6回 世界のウチナーンチュ大会 前夜祭パレード ユタ州 UTAH (shin3maniaTV 沖縄冒険編 102716)

世界のウチナーンチュ大会2016 前夜祭バレード UCHINANCHU FESTIVAL Festival Eve Parade (那覇国際通り)No2 (okinawamovie 102716)

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Uchinanchu Taikai 2016 Videos – Oct 26

第6回世界のウチナーンチュ大会 前夜祭パレード (動画チャンネル 第6回ウチナーンチュ大会 102616) [6th Worldwide Uchinanchu Taikai Eve Parade, 2hr 6min]

6th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival Parade, Oct 26 2016 (Just another day! 102616)


2016年10月26日那覇高校吹奏楽部 (ター坊 102616) [Naha high school brass band]

NAHA SHOPPING, UCHINANCHI TAIKAI PARADE – OCTOBER 26TH, 2016 (kenoconnorable’s channel 102616)

Brazilian Drumming at Uchinanchu Taikai! (Toranosuke 102616)

At the Uchinanchu Taikai Participants’ Parade! (Toranosuke 102616)

Bolivians at 6th World Uchinanchu Taikai Participants’ Parade (Toranosuke 102616)

第6回 世界のウチナーンチュ大会 前夜祭パレード アルゼンチン (shin3maniaTV 沖縄冒険編 102616) [ARGENTINA]

Brazil’s Okinawa Kenjin-kai, Uchinanchu Festival 2016 (Daniel Omine 102616)

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Beauty of Okinawa Oct. 2016

Updated 12/11/16

OKINAWA IS AWSOME (CHUNKIT CHAN 102516 – Video By gopro 4 black
Fpv + drone]

Okinawa Maha Island (Maha Kikugawa 102616)

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Mass Karate Demonstration on Kokusai Street 10/23/16

空手演武3973人 ギネス更新 国際通りで記念祭 (球新報 102316) [Kinen Festival karate demonstration on Kokusai Street: 3973 karateka attempt to break a Guinness world record.]

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Illustrated Talk by Joyce Chinen on ‘Okinawans in Hawai‘i’ 10/2/16, 2-3pm at EWC Gallery

Joyce Chinen, Director, UH Mānoa Center for Okinawan Studies and Professor of Sociology, UH West O‘ahu

Joyce Chinen, Director, UH Mānoa Center for Okinawan Studies and Professor of Sociology, UH West O‘ahu

Sunday, October 2, 2:00–3:00 p.m.
Illustrated talk: “Okinawans in Hawai‘i” by Joyce Chinen, Director UH Mānoa Center for Okinawan Studies and Professor of Sociology, UH West O‘ahu.

Free and open to the public; no reservations; general seating.

East-West Center Gallery
John A. Burns Hall
1601 East-West Road (corner Dole St. & East-West Rd.)
Admission: Free

Posted in Announcement, Culture, History, International, Lecture | 2 Comments

‘AYANUJI: Okinawa’s Traditional Culture Past and Present’ – EWC (Honolulu) Gallery 9/25/16 – 1/8/17

Click image to view the PDF flyer.

Click image to view the PDF flyer.


Posted in Announcement, Culture, Dance, Entertainment, Exhibit, History, International, Music | Leave a comment

Honolulu City Council Ignoring Voters Urging a Resolution in Support of the People of Okinawa?

Rodney HeaderFellow Hawaii Okinawans,

Ever wonder why unlike Berkeley and Seattle (which don’t have the Okinawan population that we do), cities that have already voiced their support for Okinawa and its people, our illustrious Honolulu City Council is dragging its feet in putting forth a resolution in support of the Okinawan people in Okinawa?

Perhaps it wants to make sure the resolution is approved by the Japanese Consulate here in Hawaii, first, as they did with the original.

The Japanese Consulate?

Who does the Honolulu City Council represent? Their Honolulu constituents — of which many are of Okinawan stock — or the Japanese Consulate?

As the arm of PM Abe and the Japanese Government, the Japanese Consulate thought the language of the original resolution was “too inflammatory” and would embarrass the Japanese Government.

My immediate question: Why does the Japanese Consulate have a say in this?

Seems to me the Japanese Consul wants the resolution to be so benign that it wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s written on.

In the meantime, the Japan Times‘ Jon Mitchell reports that the “U.S. washes hands of rights violations at Okinawa helipad site” (8/31/16).

Posted in Government, International, Japan, Op-ed, Protest, Resolution | 3 Comments

Public Forum 9/1/16: Peace & Security for Okinawa (UH-Manoa 5:30-7:30pm)

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CONTACT: HOA (HAWAI`I OKINAWA ALLIANCE); Aiko Yamashiro: 358-0871;


Aiko Yamashiro

Aiko Yamashiro

Honolulu, September 1, 2016- Community leaders from Okinawa are in Honolulu to appeal for the protection of their island from further US military base expansion that threatens public safety, critical natural resources, several endangered species, and local economy, among other concerns. Okinawans have overwhelmingly rejected more military bases, but the governments of Japan and the USA have ignored them, moving Okinawa to legal battles, civil disobedience and appeal for international support. Movement representatives will present their case in a public forum at the University of Hawai`i-Manoa, Center for Hawaiian Studies (2645 Dole St.) from 5:30-7:30 on Sept. 1st.

Click image to enlarge.

Click image to view the original flyer.

Hiroshi ASHITOMI and Nago City Council Member Takuma HIGASHIONNA are from the Henoko region in rural Okinawa Island, the site of the contested naval port construction into pristine Oura Bay, the northernmost habitat of the endangered dugong. Joining these grassroots community leaders is the international director of the Save the Dugong Campaign Center (SDCC) and Meio University professor Hideki YOSHIKAWA, who will be presenting a related resolution at the 2016 IUCN World Conservation Congress along with Nago Mayor Inamine. At the IUCN, the delegation will express dire concerns about alien species from imported soil to fill in the Oura Bay that experts warn will irreparably contaminate and damage the biodiversity of the fragile region.  Continue reading

Posted in Announcement, Government, International, Japan, Lecture, Politics, Protest, Rally | 3 Comments

‘Ōshima Hikki’ – Account of an 18th-Century Ryukyuan Ship

Rodney Inefuku’s latest post, “Okinawan and Japanese Boats” (8/6/16), prompted me to google Okinawan boats, and in the process I stumbled on one of the best sites on both Okinawan history and Okinawan karate — Ryukyu Bugei. The owner is Andreas Quast. (See his bio below.)

Quast’s series of articles on early Okinawan trading ships is based on Tobe Yoshihiro’s (戸部良煕) comprehensive 18th-century historical record, Ōshima Hikki (大島筆記), which focuses on interviews with a Ryūkyūan named Shiohira Pēchin. Tobe, a young Confucian scholar and retainer of the Tosa daimyō, lived in Ōshima, a small island off the southern tip of Tosa province in today’s Kōchi Prefecture (高知県).  Continue reading

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Okinawan and Japanese Boats

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I was always curious how Okinawans used to travel about Okinawa island during the old days. There was a road built by one of the Okinawan kings, which ran from Naha to Nago city past Nago through Taira village and Nakaoshi village in Haneji, going north to Ogimi (village of the Okinawan centurions) and Kunigami villages in the northern part of the island.

OkinawaMap6[1]But I imagine most villagers did not wander far from their villages because there were no means of transportation. I believe most villagers spent most of their lives in and close to their villages. To go from Naha and Nago was indeed a far walk. That would easily have taken several days.  Continue reading

Posted in Culture, History, Images, International, Japan, Op-ed, Photos | 1 Comment

Discussion on US Military Bases in Okinawa – Pre-register by 7/15/16

Click image for the PDF.

Click image for the PDF.

Continue reading

Posted in Announcement, Information, International, Japan, Lecture, Politics | Leave a comment

Taikai 2016 Places to Visit: Makishi Monorail (Yui Rail) Station on Kokusai Dori

Makishi Station (牧志駅) is a railway station for the Okinawa Monorail (Yui Rail) in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. It is located on Kokusai Dori.

Makishi Station (牧志駅) is a railway station for the Okinawa Monorail (Yui Rail) in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, Japan. It is located on Kokusai Dori. Source of images, Google maps.

Visitors from Hawaii could view it as a model of stations that are now being built for Oahu's monorail system.

Visitors from Hawaii could view it as a model of stations that are now being built for Oahu’s monorail system.

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Taikai 2016 Places to Visit: Shopping Arcades on Kokusai Dori

Heiwadori, Mutsumidori and Ichiba Hondori shopping arcades where Okieidori meets Kokusaidori (国際通り).

Street entrances to Mutsumibashidori and Ichiba Hondori shopping arcades where Okieidori meets Kokusaidori (国際通り). To the far right is the Don Quijote Kokusai Street Store. Source of images, Google maps.

Naha Public Market (Makishi Kosetsu-ichiba), Heiwadori.

Street entrance to Heiwadori, Naha Public Market (Makishi Kosetsu-ichiba), which is to the left of Mutsumibashidori.


Google maps allows us to enter the interior of the Ichiba Hondori arcade, which is filled with a fascinating labyrinth of stall-like shops.

Interior view of one of the arcades.

Interior view of the Ichiba Hondori arcade.

Continue reading

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