Asa Ige
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Old photo of Asa Ige's mother's family
A circa 1920s photo of Asa Ige’s mother’s family. Back row, from left: Auntie Mildred Fusako Nagamine, grandmother Kamato (Kaneshiro) Nagamine, grandfather Yasufusa Nagamine and Uncle Richard Hideyoshi Nagamine. Front row, from left: Auntie Rene Akiko Nagamine, mother Elsie Asako Nagamine and Uncle Yasuo Nagamine.

As a sansei son of Okinawan parents whose family names are Nagamine and Ige, I am so proud to be 100 percent Okinawan and so very proud of my heritage and history.

As a child, I never knew there was a difference, for we considered ourselves Japanese. That’s how it was until I attended Mid-Pacific Institute in Honolulu for high school. That’s when I learned that others made a distinction between Naichi (Japanese) and Uchinanchu (Okinawan). At first, I was a bit taken aback by this. But from that point forward, it was clear to me that there were differences between our cultures and food and even language.

Since then, I have yearned to learn more about the history of my grandparents and how they overcame the move to a new land. They had no formal education and were dirt-poor, as were most of the immigrants, and struggling just to survive in a new country and with a new language. I don’t know how they did it, but they did! We are now in our sixth generation here on Maui!

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Old photo of Asa Ige's parents and paternal grandparents
Asa Ige’s parents and paternal grandparents, from left: grandfather Tokujiro Ige, grandmother Kameko (Okuma) Ige, mother Elsie Ige and father Edwin Ige.


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