Lecture Critique: History of Okinawans in Hawaii

Lecture Critique

By Robert Kajiwara

Done in partial completion of of the PhD in History program at Liberty University

As part of my studies in the Ph.D. in History program at Liberty University, Dr. Joseph Super offered valuable feedback regarding my lecture on the History of Okinawans in Hawaii. His first question was why was there a large gap in time between Kalakaua’s request for workers in 1881 and 1900 when the first Okinawans finally migrated to Hawaii. This is a good question that deserves addressing.

Though Japan had annexed Ryukyu in 1879, and in 1881 Kalakaua requested migrants come to Hawaii, Ryukyuans were not immediately drawn to the offer. They were still trying to restore their independence, or to at least advance their rights and well-being through negotiations with Japan. Japan’s attempts following the annexation to eliminate Ryukyu culture, language, history, and religion were met with open hostility, and even spurred Ryukyuan resentment towards Japan.1 Thus the priority of most Ryukyuans at the time immediately following annexation was not to migrate, but to try and improve their situation.

As mentioned in the video, some Ryukyuans did migrate to China during or immediately following the annexation process. They did this in order to try and get the Chinese government to help restore Ryukyu’s independence.2 China at the time, though, was going through several internal and external crises of their own and was unable to help. China itself would soon be colonized by Britain, France, Russia, and Japan, and then fall into a disastrous civil war.

The first Ryukyuans finally did migrate to Hawaii in 1900. Those who did were generally not the adults who had lived through the annexation, but their children who had come of age and found their job prospects nil due to Japan’s abolishing of the Ryukyu government as well as the land redivision, leaving them with few fields to work or ocean resources to harvest, as had been the norm since time immemorial.3 Most Okinawans who migrated to Hawaii were in their late teens or early twenties and found the plantation work in Hawaii to be their best option – or in some cases, their only option.

Dr. Super’s next critique was that I put significant time and attention into dispelling the false reasons that sparked the Ryukyu diaspora. I was aware of this, but I nevertheless believe it to be necessary and important. The false reasons mentioned in the video have been well-propagated, including in some of the most popular books about the diaspora, and had I not taken the time to dispell these fallacies it would surely give way to much questioning and criticism. Normally I would not devote such time and attention to dispelling false information in an overview history lecture, but in this case I believe it was necessary.

Kerr’s false reasons for migrating are highly damaging for Ryukyuans even in the present day because it advances the notion that Ryukyuans must rely on foreign nations (a.k.a. colonization) for our economic well-being. This continues to have a significant impact on most of the issues Ryukyu currently faces. In other words, I think Kerr’s bias is in favor of the military colonization of Ryukyu as can be seen in his derogatory and inaccurate descriptions of some of Okinawa’s characteristics, thus justifying the ongoing military occupation of Ryukyu by Japan and the United States.

I should mention that I do not believe all of Kerr’s work is inaccurate. He generally did a good job of demonstrating Ryukyuans as an independent nation. Had he simply stopped at this, he would probably be fondly remembered by Ryukyuans. Instead, his frequent use of words such as “primitive,” “barbaric,” and “semi-civilized” to describe Ryukyuans is indicative of his bias, his lack of historical empathy, and his lack of understanding of Ryukyu.

I plan on later doing a detailed critique of Kerr’s best known work, Okinawa: History of an Island People.

I think that all people, including historians, naturally have a bias and I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. As Dr. Noelani Goodyear-Ka’opua told me, “All scholars (and people in general) have biases. Some scholars are aware of and up front about our biases and positionality. Others are not, and that is a reflection of their privilege.”

Academic studies about large nations are usually not detrimental to their survival or well-being, even if they contain some errors. For indigenous people, though, an inaccurate study can have a profoundly damaging impact on their day-to-day lives and even jeopardize our survival. Indigenous peoples such as Ryukyuans do not have the luxury of tolerating false information propagated by others that is harmful to the nation.

Overall Dr. Super’s feedback was helpful and will be useful when creating future lectures.

1Kerr, George. Okinawa: History of an Island People. Singapore: Charles E. Tuttle Company. 1958.

3Uchinanchu: A History of Okinawans in Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press. 1981.

Family History

Family History

By Robert Kajiwara

All Ryukyuans (Luuchuuans) trace their genealogy back to Amamichuu, the matriarch of the Ryukyu Islands, and her husband Shinirichuu.1 According to tradition and the Umuru Usooshi (Omoro Sooshi – the written compilation of ancient Ryukyu oral traditions), Amamichuu was sent by God (Chinmamun, in the Okinawan languageliterally, “Heaven’s Emperor” or “Heavens Supreme Lord and Protector”) to populate the Ryukyu Islands. Legend has it that God placed them on Kudaka, which is one of the close neighboring islands just to the east of Okinawa Island. The date of this event is not known, though modern archeological evidence suggests the Ryukyu Islands were populated as early as 32,000 B.C.2 To this day Kudaka is considered one of the most sacred locations in all of Ryukyu, and Ryukyuans regularly make pilgrimages there to pay homage to their ancestors and give thanks to Heaven for bringing them to Ryukyu.

My ancestors lived in the town of Yuntanja, or Yomitan, located around the west-central part of Okinawa Island. During the early 1400s Yuntanja had a leader known as Gusamaru (or Gosamaru) who proved to be extremely well-liked by the public as well as a capable leader and engineer.3 Around the year 1440 Gosamaru was asked by the Ryukyu Kingdom court to move to Nakagusuku to improve its castle and region. Several families from Yuntanja, including my own, chose to follow Gosamaru to Nakagusuku.4 My family genealogy can be found in the ancient records stored in the Nakagusuku Village and Yomitan Town archives. As with most Ryukyuans, my written genealogical records can be traced back to around 1,000 years ago.

nakagusuku castle.jpg
Nakagusuku Castle’s third keep, built by Gosamaru, featuring his own unique design that improved the defense and durability of the walls, making it significantly harder for attackers to besiege.

Ryukyu experienced two golden ages, the first around the 15th – 16th centuries, and the second between the 18th – 19th centuries.5 Around the 15th century Ryukyu banned weapons in order to promote peace, and Ryukyu had friendly diplomatic relations with all of its neighbors. Ryukyu became a center for international trade, particularly with China, Korea, Japan, Southeast Asia, and modern day Indonesia and Malaysia.

The Ryukyu government had requested that China send people to assist with the Ryukyu government administration, to teach Chinese studies to Ryukyuans, and to act as diplomats between Ryukyu and China. In 1392 the famous 36 Min Families arrived in Ryukyu from Fujian, China. They were given the district of Kuninda (Kumemura), located close to the royal court at Shuri, to inhabit. Overtime these Chinese scholar-bureaucrats eventually intermarried and assimilated into Ryukyu society, and today many Ryukyuans can trace partial lineage back to them.

chinese garden.jpg
Fukushuen Chinese Garden in Kumemura, Naha, Okinawa, built in commemoration of the long history of friendship with Fujian, China.

In 1879 Japan invaded Ryukyu using modern Western-style military weapons, and annexed it against the will of the Ryukyuan people. Japan, of course, went on to do the same to many other countries, such as Korea, China, the Philippines, Vietnam, and more. The annexation devastated Ryukyu’s economy. Ryukyuans, who up until this point had been wealthy and prosperous, suddenly found themselves living in poverty. Particularly impacted were the government workers of the Ryukyu Kingdom, who now found themselves out of a job. This sparked the Ryukyu diaspora, in which thousands of Ryukyuans would flee into exile overseas to China, Hawaii, the United States, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Bolivia, and elsewhere between the late-19th through the mid-20th centuries.

Screen Shot 2019-11-27 at 6.06.08 PM.png
Robert Kajiwara’s great-great grandparents from Nakagusuku, Okinawa.

Meanwhile the Hawaiian Kingdom found itself in a crisis due to the massive decline in the Hawaiian population. Hawaii’s King Kalakaua worried that his people would eventually become outnumbered by haole (foreign, or white) settlers who were attempting to colonize and take over the Hawaiian Islands. Kalakaua saw Asians and Hawaiians as cousins, and requested that Asians and Pacific Islanders come to Hawaii to help replenish the Hawaiian population and assist the Hawaiian Kingdom. In 1881, just two years after the annexation of Ryukyu, Kalakaua traveled to Japan where he met with the Meiji Government, and requested that Japanese and Ryukyuans migrate to Hawaii, to which Japan agreed.6

In 1893 a small group of white American businessmen conspired with the United States Ambassador to overthrow the Hawaiian Kingdom monarchy and establish their own oligarchy in what is often considered the single most traumatic event in Hawaiian history.7 Hawaiians to this day have struggled to re-establish Hawaii’s de facto independence.

Screen Shot 2019-11-27 at 6.08.35 PM.png
Robert Kajiwara’s great-grandparents at their home in Hawaii.

The first Ryukyuans would arrive in Hawaii in 1900.8 Ryukyuans in Hawaii are often called Okinawans, or Uchinaanchu, since the majority migrated from Okinawa Island. In 1907 my great-grandfather Seitoku Fija (Higa) arrived in Maui from Nakagusuku.9 Ten years later my great-grandmother, Kamata Fija (Higa) would also arrive.10 They would eventually move to the Hakalau plantation village, located on the Island of Hawaii. Like most Okinawans, they would send money back home to their families in Ryukyu. Eventually they saved enough money and moved to the Island of Oahu. To this day Okinawans in Hawaii maintain thriving communities and relations with our friends and relatives in Okinawa.

Sources

Armstrong, Nevins Williams. Around the World With a King. New York: FA Strokes. 1904. 

Coffman, Tom. Nation Within. Duke University Press: 2003.

Nakagusuku Village Historical Records.

Omoro Sooshi. 1531.

Sai On. Chuzan Seifu. 1697.

Sho Shoken, Sai Taku. Chuzan Seikan. 1650.

Hawaii Tomari Doshi Kai History Book.

Kyuyo. Tei Heitetsu, et. al. The Ryukyu Kingdom. 1745, 1876.

Uchinanchu: A History of Okianwans in Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press. 1981.

Yomitan Town Historical Records.

Yousuke Kaifu, Masaki Fujita. “Fossil record of early modern humans in East Asia.” Quaternary International. Volume 248, 18 January 2012, 2-11.

1Omoro Sooshi. 1531.

Sai Taku. Chuzan Seifu. 1697.

Sho Shoken. Chuzan Seikan. 1650.

2Yousuke Kaifu, Masaki Fujita. “Fossil record of early modern humans in East Asia.” Quaternary International. Volume 248, 18 January 2012, 2-11.

3Yomitan Town Historical Records.

4Nakagusuku Village Historical Records.

5The exact start and end dates of Ryukyu’s two golden ages are up for debate by scholars.

6 Armstrong, Nevins Williams. Around the World With a King. New York: FA Strokes. 1904. 

7 Coffman, Tom. Nation Within. Duke University Press: 2003.

8Uchinanchu: A History of Okianwans in Hawaii. University of Hawaii Press. 1981.

9Hawaii Tomari Doshi Kai History Book.

10Ibid.

Settlers of Color and “Immigrant” Hegemony: “Locals” in Hawai’i.

Back in 2000, Dr. Haunani-Kay Trask wrote a fascinating article published in Amerasia Journal about Asian settler colonization in Hawaii. In short, Hawaiians have been colonized and oppressed not just by haole (white) Americans, but also by many Asian settlers to Hawaii, the majority of whom have supported and benefited from the U.S. occupation of Hawaii.

In actuality, local Asians in Hawaii should support the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Click the link below to read this fascinating article.
Trask, Haunani-Kay. Settlers of Color and “Immigrant” Hegemony: “Locals” in Hawai’i. Amerasia Journal. 2000;26(2):1.

 

https://opencuny.org/earthseededucation/files/2014/01/Trask_SettlersOfColor.pdf

 

 

Early Christian History Between Hawaii and the United States

Early Christian History Between Hawaii and the United States

By Robert Hernandez Kajiwara

Christianity played a pivotal role in the early histories of both the Hawaiian Kingdom and the United States. This short article will briefly examine this early history.

In 1809 five young Hawaiians arrived in New England via an American trade ship. Among them was Henry Obookiah (or Opukahaia), a young man who would go on to play a huge role in Hawaii’s history.1 Opukahaia displayed much academic and linguistic aptitude, eventually studying at Yale University and converting to Christianity.2 Opukahaia spoke and wrote about his home islands, asking that churches in New England send missionaries to Hawaii to share the gospel.3 Opukahaia tragically contracted typhus fever and died at the age of twenty six before he could return home.4 His death, though, sparked a wave of interest among New England Christians, dozens of whom would eventually become the first Christian missionaries to Hawaii. This is well-documented in Opukahaia’s own writings, as well as in the writings of the American Board of Commissioners of Foreign Missionaries (ABCFM) and Lyman Beecher, who was Opukahaia’s pastor.

The first American missionaries arrived in the Hawaiian Islands in 1820. Through 1848 the ABCFM, a Congregational and Presbyterian organization, would send around 150 missionaries to the Hawaiian Islands.5 Several other denominations, such as Anglicans, Baptists, Methodists, and Roman Catholics, would later send their own missionaries and establish thriving churches, some of which last to the present day.

Many of these early missionaries displayed a prejudice and xenophobia towards Hawaiian people, their culture, customs, and lifestyle, as can be seen in their writings. History of the Sandwich Islands: with an account of the American mission established there in 1820, compiled by Ephraim Eveleth and published in 1831 in Philadelphia, is a collection of documents (mostly letters) written by these missionaries. They tend to portray Hawaiians as poor, barbaric, uncivilized, and oppressed by their leaders, which the missionaries would use to justify their eventual takeover of Hawaiian land and government. It should be noted that Hawaiians of the day (including Hawaiian Christians) considered Hawaii to be a thriving, prosperous, and advanced society where poverty and homelessness were practically non-existent, and where good health and longevity were the norm.6

Not all of the missionaries were prejudiced, however. Some were respectful towards Hawaiians and assimilated into Hawaiian society. Perhaps the most important positive contribution of the missionaries was their promotion of literacy. Over the next several decades they would write several works of Christian literature in both the Hawaiian and English languages, and conduct wide-scale literacy campaigns that proved very effective. By 1860 the literacy rate in the United States was approximately 74%, while in Hawaii it was at over 90%.7 “The standard of intelligence among the native Hawaiians is higher than that of any other nation in the world, with illiteracy being practically unknown,” wrote Charles Gulick, whose parents were among the first missionaries to Hawaii.8 Gulick was one of the few members of the missionary families to support the Hawaiian Kingdom during the illegal overthrow in 1893, and today there is a street named in his honor in downtown Honolulu.

The original instructions from the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to the missionaries to Hawaii had been to work “for no private end, for no earthly object” and “wholly for the good of others, and for the glory of God our Savior.”9 By the 1840s, though, the interests of the missionaries had turned to business and politics, and they began acquiring large amounts of Hawaiian land for themselves. Later in the century the missionary families had developed into a business oligarchy collectively known as the Big Five, exerting a large amount of political-economic control over Hawaii that would last until the mid-twentieth century. In 1893 a group of these American missionaries conspired with the U.S. ambassador to invade the Hawaiian Kingdom and overthrow the monarchy at gun point in what is considered to be the single most harmful event in Hawaiian history.10

The missionaries, most of whom were young adults when they came to Hawaii, used religion to amass political-economic power for themselves and oppress Hawaiians. By taking advantage of Hawaiian interest in Christianity, these missionaries, who had little in the way of accomplishments back in their home towns, found a tremendous amount of personal wealth and influence under the guise of “missionary work” in a foreign land. Many of their descendants enjoy the fruits of their wealth to this day, while Hawaiians, who had sincerely converted to Christianity, continue to be oppressed, marginalized, and even homeless within their own home islands.

Primary Sources:

American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.. A narrative of five youth from the Sandwich Islands, now receiving an education in this country. New-York, 1816. 42pp. Sabin Americana. Gale, Cengage Learning. Liberty University. 19 November 2019.

Beecher, Lyman. A sermon delivered at the funeral of Henry Obookiah : a native of Owhyhee and a member of the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut : … Elizabeth-town [N.J.]; (Elizabeth-town), 1819. 31pp. Sabin Americana. Gale, Cengage Learning. Liberty University. 19 November 2019

Eveleth, Ephraim. History of the Sandwich Islands : with an account of the American mission established there in 1820. Philadelphia, 1831. 200pp. Sabin Americana. Gale, Cengage Learning. Liberty University. 19 November 2019.

Foreign Relations of the United States, 1894, Appendix II, Affairs in Hawaii. Retrieved 19 November 2019 from: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1894app2/d306.

Instructions of the Purdential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to the Sandwich Islands Mission (Lahainaluna, 1838), 19-20, 27-28.

Kamakau, Samuel (1815-1876). Writings, later published in several collections: Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii; Ka Poe Kahiko: The People of Old; The Works of the people of Old: Na Hana a ka Poe Kahiko; Tales and Traditions of the People of Old: Na Moolelo a ka Poe Kahiko.

Secondary Sources:

Charlot, John. “Two Early Hawaiian-Christian Chants.” Anthropos105, no. 1 (2010): 29-46. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25734737.

Coffman, Tom. Nation Within: The History of the American Occupation of Hawaiʻi. Duke University Press. 2003.

Kajiwara, Robert. Hawaii, Christianity, and the United States: A Complicated History. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2019. https://www.amazon.com/Hawaii-Christianity-United-States-Complicated-ebook/dp/B07Z2K93F3/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=robert+kajiwara&qid=1574205062&s=digital-text&sr=1-1

Kuykendall, Ralph S. The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume 1, 1778-1854, Foundation and Transformation. 119-120.

Shulz, Joy. Hawaiian by Birth: Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and U.S. Colonialism in the Pacific. University of Nebraska Press. 2017.

Williams, Ronald Jr. “A Nation Refuses to Forget.” November 25, 2017.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9CTLnKoUI8

1 American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions.. A narrative of five youth from the Sandwich Islands, now receiving an education in this country. New-York, 1816. 42pp. Sabin Americana. Gale, Cengage Learning. Liberty University. 19 November 2019.

2Ibid.

3 Beecher, Lyman. A sermon delivered at the funeral of Henry Obookiah : a native of Owhyhee and a member of the Foreign Mission School in Cornwall, Connecticut : … Elizabeth-town [N.J.]; (Elizabeth-town), 1819. 31pp. Sabin Americana. Gale, Cengage Learning. Liberty University. 19 November 2019.

4Ibid.

5Schulz, Joy. Hawaiian by Birth: Missionary Children, Bicultural Identity, and U.S. Colonialism in the Pacific. University of Nebraska Press. 2017. 1.

6 Kamakau, Samuel (1815-1876). Writings, later published in several collections: Ruling Chiefs of Hawaii; Ka Poe Kahiko: The People of Old; The Works of the people of Old: Na Hana a ka Poe Kahiko; Tales and Traditions of the People of Old: Na Moolelo a ka Poe Kahiko.

7 Williams, Ronald Jr. “A Nation Refuses to Forget.” November 25, 2017.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x9CTLnKoUI8

8Foreign Relations of the United States, 1894, Appendix II, Affairs in Hawaii. Retrieved 19 November 2019 from: https://history.state.gov/historicaldocuments/frus1894app2/d306. 766.

9 Charlot, John. “Two Early Hawaiian-Christian Chants.” Anthropos105, no. 1 (2010): 29-46. http://www.jstor.org/stable/25734737. 34.

Instructions of the Prudential Committee of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions to the Sandwich Islands Mission (Lahainaluna, 1838), 19-20, 27-28.

Kuykendall. The Hawaiian Kingdom, Volume 1, 1778-1854, Foundation and Transformation. 101.

10 Coffman, Tom. Nation Within: The History of the American Occupation of Hawaiʻi. Duke University Press. 2003.

Syllabus: Survey of Ryukyu History

Survey of Ryukyu History

Syllabus

8-Week Online Course

By Robert Hernandez Kajiwara

Done in partial fulfillment of the Ph.D. in History program at Liberty University

Description: An undergraduate-level course providing a broad overview of Ryukyu history. The course will start with Ryukyu prehistory and cover all the way up to the modern day. The course will examine Ryukyu relations with neighboring regions, including China, Korea, Japan, Malay, the Philippines, and Southeast Asia. The course will also provide students with an introduction to fundamental elements and concepts in Ryukyu culture. The curriculum will end with modern Ryukyu history, including Ryukyu relations with both Japan and the United States.

Format: Online

Student Learning Outcomes

  1. Students will gain a broad understanding of the history of the Ryukyu Islands and people.

  2. Students will demonstrate clear writing and analysis ability at the undergraduate level.

  3. Students will demonstrate the ability to make brief video lectures about Ryukyu subjects.

  4. Students will be able to describe U.S. military issues in the Ryukyu Islands.

Module One: Ryukyu Prehistory

Covers Ryukyu prehistory, including the first known human settlements in the Ryukyu Islands. Discusses early Ryukyu relations with China starting around the second century B.C. Analyzes portions of the Omoro Sooshi to gain understanding of life in prehistoric Ryukyu as well as learn about Ryukyu spirituality. Covers Ryukyu trade with Pacific Islands, and the introduction of rice and the sweet potato.

Readings:

  • Kajiwara, Robert. An Overview of Ryukyu History. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2020. Chapter 1: Prehistory.

  • Omoro Sooshi (primary source). English Translation done by Robert Kajiwara.

Assignments:

  • Video Blog 1:

    • Students will create a video introducing themselves to the class. Please include the following information:

      • Your name that you are registered in the school under.

      • Your preferred name if different from your registered name.

      • Your academic background.

      • Your future academic or career plans.

      • Any background you might have in Ryukyu studies.

      • Your hobbies

      • Anything else you would like to share with the class

  • Discussion Board 1: Describe some elements of prehistoric Ryukyu society.

Module Two: The Gusuku Period & Early Relations with China

Focuses on the first gusuku (castles) starting around the ninth century. Briefly studies the failed Mongol invasions of Ryukyu. Focuses heavily on the Three Kingdoms period of the 13th century, along with the start of formal political relations with China. Also covers the first Chinese settlement in Ryukyu and the introduction of Chinese cultural and political elements. Students will briefly examine Ryukyu historiography and the differences in sources and viewpoints (Ryukyuan, American, Japanese).

Readings:

  • Kajiwara, Robert. An Overview of Ryukyu History. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2020. Chapters 2-4.

  • Pearson, Richard J. Archeology of the Ryukyu Islands. University of Hawaii Press. 1969.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe the gusuku. When did they first start to appear? Describe their appearance and how they were built. What roles did they have in Ryukyu society?

  2. Why did Ryukyuans first seek formal political relations with China? What were the advantages or disadvantages of the Ryukyu-China relationship for both sides?

  3. What are some of the similarities or differences between Ryukyu, Japanese, and American sources?

Assignments:

  • Video Blog 2: Answer one of the three Discussion Questions.

  • Discussion Board 2: Answer one of the other Discussion Questions (different from the question you answered in Video Blog 2).

  • Begin assembling your final paper based on your notes from this course so far.

Module Three: The First Ryukyu Golden Age

Covers Sho Hashi and the unification of Ryukyu under the Ryukyu Kingdom. Hashi introduced iron tools to Ryukyu, transforming Ryukyu’s socio-economic scene, and ushering in the First Ryukyu Golden Age. Examines Ryukyu trade, particularly with Southeast Asia. Covers the banning of weapons and the development of karate.

Readings:

  • Kajiwara, Robert. An Overview of Ryukyu History. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2020. Chapters 5-6.

  • Kerr, George. Okinawa: History of an Island People. Tuttle Publishing: 1958. Chapter 5.

Discussion Questions

  1. Describe some of the achievements of Sho Hashi.

  2. What elements led to the start of the First Ryukyu Golden Age?

  3. What are some of the differences in perspectives between Kajiwara and Kerr?

Assignments:

  • Video Blog 3: Answer one of the three Discussion Questions.

  • Discussion Board 3: Answer one of the other Discussion Questions (different from the question you answered in Video Blog 3).

  • Submit a Draft #1 of your Historical Overview paper.

Module Four: The Satsuma Invasion and Ryukyu in the 17th century

The decline of the First Sho Dynasty and the start of the Second. Examines the events occurring in Japan that led to the Satsuma Invasion of 1609. Also examines events in Ming Dynasty China that prevented the Ming from coming to Ryukyu’s aid. Examines the aftermath of the Satsuma Invasion on Ryukyu.

Readings:

  • Kajiwara, Robert. An Overview of Ryukyu History. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2020. Chapters 7-9.

  • Kerr, George. Okinawa: History of an Island People. Tuttle Publishing: 1958. Chapter 7.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What brought about the decline of the First Sho Dynasty?

  2. What were the reasons for the Satsuma Invasion of 1609?

  3. What was the aftermath of the Satsuma Invasion on Ryukyu?

Assignments:

  • Video Blog 4: Answer one of the three Discussion Questions.

  • Discussion Board 4: Answer one of the other Discussion Questions (different from the question you answered in Video Blog 3).

Module Five: The Second Ryukyu Golden Age

Examines the Second Ryukyu Golden Age, the successes of the Second Sho Dynasty, and the further developments of Ryukyu politics, economics, and society. Examines increased cultural developments paving the way for modern Ryukyu culture. Examines relations with Qing Dynasty China, as well as the forced tributary relations with Japan, and how Ryukyu further Sinified in order to survive.

Readings:

  • Kajiwara, Robert. An Overview of Ryukyu History. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2020. Chapters 10-11.

  • Kerr, George. Okinawa: History of an Island People. Tuttle Publishing: 1958. Chapter 9.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe the impact on Ryukyu of its relationship with Japan.

  2. What paved the way for the Second Ryukyu Golden Age?

  3. Describe the elements of the Second Ryukyu Golden Age.

Assignments:

  • Video Blog 5: Answer one of the three Discussion Questions.

  • Discussion Board 5: Answer one of the other Discussion Questions (different from the question you answered in Video Blog 5).

  • Draft #2 Historical Overview paper.

Module Six: Japan Annexation & the Ryukyu Diaspora

Examines the forced annexation of Ryukyu by Imperial Japan starting in 1872 and culminating in 1879. Covers the impact annexation had on Ryukyu society as well as Japanese prejudice against Ryukyuans. Examines the start of the Ryukyu diaspora in the late-nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, in which thousands of Ryukyuans migrated overseas to Hawaii, the United States, China, South America, and elsewhere.

Readings:

  • Kajiwara, Robert. An Overview of Ryukyu History. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2020. Chapters 12-13.

  • Kerr, George. Okinawa: History of an Island People. Tuttle Publishing: 1958. Chapter 11.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe the reasons for the start of the Ryukyu diaspora.

  2. What elements paved the way for Japan’s illegal annexation of Ryukyu?

  3. What was the impact of Japan’s annexation on Ryukyu?

Assignments:

  • Video Blog 6: Answer one of the three Discussion Questions.

  • Discussion Board 6: Answer one of the other Discussion Questions (different from the question you answered in Video Blog 6).

Module Seven: World War II and the Battle of Okinawa

Briefly covers Japan’s annexation of other Asian countries, such as China, Korea, the Philippines, and Vietnam, and compares these to the annexation of Ryukyu. Covers Japan’s military build up on Okinawa Island, which paved the way for the tragic Battle of Okinawa. Examines Japanese genocide against Okinawans.

Readings:

  • Higa, Tomiko. The Girl with the White Flag. Kodansha International. 2013.

  • Kajiwara, Robert. An Overview of Ryukyu History. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2020. Chapter 14.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What actions by the Japan military and government led to the Battle of Okinawa?

  2. How did Japan’s treatment of Ryukyu compare with its treatment of other countries it occupied?

  3. Describe the impact of the Battle of Okinawa on the Okinawan people.

Assignments:

  • Video Blog 7: Answer one of the three Discussion Questions.

  • Discussion Board 7: Answer one of the other Discussion Questions (different from the question you answered in Video Blog 7).

  • Final Paper Rough Draft.

Module Eight: Modern Ryukyu

Covers the immediate post-war rebuilding period, as well as further Okinawan migrations to South America. Examines the effects of tourism and the military in Ryukyu. Examines efforts by Ryukyu to regain its independence and retain their Ryukyu identity, both in Ryukyu and overseas.

Readings:

  • Kajiwara, Robert. Re-examining Okinawa’s Role in Asia-Pacific Security. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2019.

  • Kajiwara, Robert. Occupied Okinawa: The United States of America and Japan’s Desecration of Okinawa’s Democracy and Environment. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2019.

  • Okinawa Prefecture Government. What Okinawa Wants You to Understand About the U.S. Military Bases. 2018.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Describe the impact of the military presence on Okinawa.

  2. Describe the modern Ryukyu diaspora.

  3. Describe modern efforts to restore Ryukyu history, culture, language, and independence.

Assignments:

  • Video Blog 8: Answer one of the three Discussion Questions.

  • Discussion Board 8: Answer one of the other Discussion Questions (different from the question you answered in Video Blog 8).

  • Final Paper.

Assignment Points

Discussion Boards: 8 Discussion Boards, worth 20 points each. Total = 160 points

Video Lectures: 240 points

Draft #1 of Historical Overview: 100 points

Draft #2 of Historical Overview: 100 points

Final Paper Rough Draft: 100 points

Final Paper: 300 points

951-1000 = A

901-950 = A-

851-900 = B

801-850 = B-

751-800 = C

701-750 = C-

651-700 = D

601-650 = D-

1-600 = F

Students should be able to dedicate around 12 hours per week to this course. Actual time may vary based on the needs of individual students.

Assignment Instructions

Discussion Boards: All discussion board posts must be between 350-500 words. Students should respond to three discussion board posts from other students. Discussion board responses should be between 100-200 words long. Students should also respond to at least one comment received from another student on their own original post. Posts that fall short or go over the word limit will have points deducted.

Video Blogs: All video blogs should be between 3:30-5:00 in length. Videos that go over or under the required time limit will be penalized.

Draft #1 Historical Overview: This should be a 2-3 page paper, double-spaced, of your notes and writings from the course so far. Cite sources in Chicago style. The writing should be in your own words. If quoting directly from another author, be sure to assign proper credit.

Draft #2 Historical Overview: This should be a 4-6 page paper, double-spaced, of your notes and writings from the course so far. This paper should expand upon your previous Draft #1. Cite sources in Chicago style. The writing should be in your own words. If quoting directly from another author, be sure to assign proper credit.

Final Paper Rough Draft: This should be an 8-10 page paper, double-spaced, of your notes and writings from the course so far. This rough draft should expand upon both Draft #1 and Draft #2. Cite sources in Chicago style. The writing should be in your own words. If quoting directly from another author, be sure to assign proper credit.

Final Paper: This should be a 10-12 page paper, double spaced, of your notes and writings from the course so far. This paper should be a culmination and expansion of Draft #1, Draft #2, and your Final Paper Rough Draft. Cite sources in Chicago style. The writing should be in your own words. If quoting directly from another author, be sure to assign proper credit. This paper should demonstrate your general knowledge of Ryukyu history and your ability to explain a basic overview of Ryukyu history using academic writing and sources.

Required Reading

Higa, Tomiko. The Girl with the White Flag. Kodansha International. 2013.

Kajiwara, Robert. An Overview of Ryukyu History. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2020.

Kajiwara, Robert. Re-examining Okinawa’s Role in Asia-Pacific Security. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2019.

Kajiwara, Robert. Occupied Okinawa: The United States of America and Japan’s Desecration of Okinawa’s Democracy and Environment. Honolulu: Kaji Books. 2019.

Kerr, George. Okinawa: History of an Island People. Tuttle Publishing: 1958.

Okinawa Prefecture Government. What Okinawa Wants You to Understand About the U.S. Military Bases. 2018.

Pearson, Richard J. Archeology of the Ryukyu Islands. University of Hawaii Press. 1969.