Uchinanchu: A History of Okinawans in Hawaii
664pp. September 2009
Uchinanchu: A History of Okinawans in Hawaii
Author: Center for Oral History (University of Hawaii); Hawaii United Okinawa Association;
Uchinanchu is the term used by Okinawan immigrants and their descendants in Hawai‘i to identify themselves as an ethnic group distinct from the Yamatunchu or Naichi of Japan’s four main islands. Though Japanese, linguistic and cultural differences as well as their late arrival in the islands made the Uchinanchu targets of Naichi prejudice in the past. Pressure from without and determination from within the group caused Hawai‘i’s Uchinanchu to pull together with pride in the face of adversity.

Some 25,000 men, women, and children left their impoverished Okinawan homeland between 1900 and 1924, hoping for a better life in Hawai‘i. Their early experiences were marked by hard, lean years on sugar and pineapple plantations. In this book, eighty- and ninety-year-old issei, first generation immigrants, describe through interviews what it was like to pull up roots in their homeland and make new lives in the islands.

The story of the gradual development and progress of the Okinawan community is unfolded through articles on labor, religion, culture, business, agriculture, government, son (village) clubs, and community-wide organizations.

Uchinanchu supports and promotes pride in the culture, history, and contributions of Okinawans in Hawai‘i. It also adds another chapter to our understanding of Hawai‘i’s rich, diverse, multi-ethnic heritage.

56 illus.

Distributed for the Center for Oral History (University of Hawai‘i) and the Hawai‘i United Okinawa Association
"As a whole, the materials in Uchinanchu present an unprecedented wealth of information on Okinawans. In many respects, this book is really a reference work, but it is one which can be used by the public as well as scholars and which can easily be appreciated by non-Okinawans. . . . This volume is the outcome of a substantial cooperative effort between an ethnic community and a university, a phenomenon which is unfortunately too rare. . . . The preparation and publication of Uchinanchu represents one ethnic group’s strong reaffirmation of pride in their ethnicity." —Russell Endo, University of Colorado

"The real significance of Uchinanchu derives from its . . . fourteen issei life histories. . . . These interviews not only supply the raw material of history but their collection often rekindles a community interest in preserving their culture and history. It was a delight to read the conversations of these issei interviewees; for this reviewer, the oral texts held further meaning, of renewed acquaintances with old family friends and kinfolk. . . . The entire project was conceived first by the Okinawan community in Hawai‘i. The principal importance and interest of Uchinanchu to that community no doubt resides in the issei oral histories, and in the liberating realization that those ordinary lives form the basis for our collective historic past." —Gary Y. Okihiro, Columbia University

Author: Center for Oral History (University of Hawaii); Hawaii United Okinawa Association;