On October 27th, UH Manoa’s Center for Okinawan Studies coordinated and presented, The Cocktail Party, a play by Mr. Tatsuhiro Oshiro at the Orvis Auditorium on the UH-Manoa campus. Originally published as a novella in 1967, The Cocktail Party is the first Okinawan literary work to win Japan’s most prestigious literary honor, the Akutagawa prize.
Mr. Oshiro (depicted above) is considered to be the founder of modern Okinawan literature. He has a distinguished writing career of six decades and has written fiction, drama, essays, and other writings on Okinawan culture and history.
In his play adaptation of The Cocktail Party, the plot centers on Mr. Uehara, an Okinawan, who visits his daughter in Washington DC in 1995. As Mr. Uehara reminisces with his daughter about the past–along with her husband, an American, they bring up many important social and cultural issues which has shaped and still shapes the world’s relationship with Okinawa, which makes the drama especially relevant today.
On October 15th, as part of the Fifth Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival in Okinawa, organizers held the “1st International Uchinanchu Ancestry Symposium” at the Okinawa Prefectural Museum. The panelists were Tokiko Bazzell, Japan Studies Librarian in the UH Library, Professor Masayuki Dana of Okinawa International University, Masaaki Hokama, Chief Curator of the Historical Museum of Naha Civic Culture, and Shinji Yonamine, President of the Okinawa Kenjinkai of Brazil. Symposium MC was Liz Teruya. The program, building on the Uchima Family Genealogy restoration project, a collaboration between UH Library and thePrefecturalMuseum, explored the importance of genealogies to historians, and to the families themselves in preserving and documenting the past. Presenters discussed how to gain access to existing genealogies through museums and libraries. (Bazzell highlighted the UH Sakamaki-Hawley Collection, which now includes the newly restored Uchima Family document.)
Hawai‘i Governor Neil Abercrombie opened the event with a rousing 15-minute speech on the significance of the Okinawan diaspora in the world, and the importance of tracking genealogies. The over 100 attendees engaged in a lively question and answer period after the panel presentations.
The day opened with a visit to the University of the Ryukyus, where President Greenwood received an honorary doctorate. To express UH’s gratitude to the University of the Ryukyus for their generous gift of two bronze shiisaa (which we hope will be seen on campus sometime next year), and their support of Okinawan Studies at UH, President Greenwood presented UR President Iwamasa with a replica of the voyaging canoe Hōkūle’a inscribed with the motto “One ocean, one people.” The Hawaiian Protocol Team chanted an oli and performed a dance with paddle, and ended with a mele composed just for this occasion, during which they danced hula noho (seated style). Hawai’i Governor Neil Abercrombie delivered a moving speech that continued the theme of oceans uniting, and of island peoples, with strong indigenous traditions, facing similar challenges, while President Greenwood spoke of the opportunities available for UH and UR to work together to solve these challenges. The President and Governor then went outside to plant two Okinawa cherry trees to commemorate the occasion. These trees joined others planted over the years by former UH presidents and Chancellor Virginia Hinshaw.
A full day, starting with a visit to the Okinawa Prefectural Museum to see the Uchima Family Lineage volume, donated to the UH Library by the Uchima family, and just restored by the Okinawa Prefectural Museum in a collaborative project. The book will be displayed this week for the Festival, then Japan Librarian Tokiko Bazzell will bring it back to UH. The Hawaiʽi Protocol Team (Keawe Lopes, Kaʽiulani Kanehailua, and Kekai Avilez) perform an oli and hula noho (seated hula) to express our gratitude to the Museum for helping Hawaiʽi recover a piece of its history, and Tokiko Bazzell presented the Deputy Museum Director with a Hawaiian quilt. The delegation then toured the museum and met with Mr. Takumi Toma, who did the book restoration work.
UH President MRC Greenwood arrived in Okinawa for a three-day visit. The UH delegation visited the Prefectural Memorial Museum and the Himeyuri Peace Prayer and Memorial Museum, then met with Dr. Kaoru Ashimine, Director of the UH Postgraduate Medical Education Program at Chubu Hospital. The Chubu-UH relationship goes back 44 years.