Sept. 4: Okinawan Immigration Webinar

The Hawaii United Okinawa Association and the University of Hawai’i at Mänoa Center for Okinawan Studies will present an Okinawan immigration webinar on Friday, Sept. 4, from 5-7 p.m., HST.
The online discussion will feature speakers from UH, the University of the Ryükyüs and elsewhere. Virtual attendees will learn about how Okinawan immigration started under Töyama’s leadership, the stories of the first two groups that arrived in Hawai‘i in 1900 and 1903 and the expansion of immigration to South America and other parts of the world.

Please check the website for the most up-to-date developments of this webinar and other events commemorating the 120th anniversary of Okinawan immigration.

Free Digital Access to Issei Life Histories From “Uchinanchu”

Lynette Teruya’s article mentions chapters from the most well-known book on Okinawan immigration to Hawai‘i, “Uchinanchu: A History of Okinawans in Hawaii,” which was put together in 1981 by the University of Hawai‘i-Mänoa Ethnic Studies Oral History Project (renamed the UHM Center for Oral History) and the United Okinawan Association of Hawaii (now the HUOA). From the 1980s through the first decade of millennium, it was unusual if a local Okinawan family in Hawai‘i did not display this beloved volume on its shelf! With a hefty 600 pages of history, it’s hard to miss!

Though republished in 2009 after its initial print run, “Uchinanchu” is now seen (and priced!) as a relatively rare book, going for $62 and up at Amazon — averaging around $100 for volumes in “very good” condition!

Even if “Uchinanchu” might not be affordable for many Okinawans, the UHM COH has made available for free its Chapter VI, “Issei Life Histories,” via ScholarSpace, a public digital archive (see

Originally conducted for “Uchinanchu” by COH staff from 1980-81, the issei life histories include those of the following Okinawans in the community in their 80s and 90s at the time, most of whom have since passed: Tsuru Yamauchi, Kosuke Teruya, Baishiro Tamashiro, Tokusuke Oshiro, Choki Oshiro, Tokushin Nakamoto, Seichin Nagayama, Chosoku Kochi, Matsu Kina, Kame Kaneshiro, Hashiji Kakazu, Tsuru Hokama, Chokame Hokama, Toden Higa and Shigeo Chinen. Honor their legacies by checking out the stories as well as photos in this archive!

The oral-history interviews can also be sorted by subject — such as plantation life, work conditions, immigration, family life, ethnic relations, World War II and what it was like, back then, in different regions (e.g., Läna‘i, Makawao, Japan/Okinawa).

Learn about what your ancestors, or the forebears of today’s Uchinanchu community, might have experienced in those early days as far back as 120 years ago — by reading about the sugar or pineapple plantations, about these Issei’s risk-taking migration from Okinawa to the Hawaiian islands or about daily life in Hawai‘i for Okinawan immigrants and their families during the Territorial era.


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