Haisai!

MeHedoCape
At Hedo Cape, the northernmost point on Okinawa island


Haisai! My name is Takuma Sminkey. I’m a long-term resident of Japan who loves Okinawa and modern Okinawan literature. The aim of this site is to introduce Okinawan literature to general readers in English. With the help of my students at Okinawa International University, I hope to gradually provide more and more reading guides for various short stories and novels. I’ll also introduce some works written by mainland Japanese writers who deal with Okinawa-related themes. In addition, I hope to provide resources, links, and various information about Okinawan literature, translations, and criticism—focussing especially on information in English. Don’t hesitate to drop me a line to give me your comments or suggestions.

Click the links to the right to see reviews, summaries, and other information concerning the various authors or works listed. After clicking on an author’s name, you’ll see links to their stories under the Sub Menu to the right. Below, you can find a list of translations and criticism available in English. Please let me know of any English resources not listed here.

Okinawan Literature in English Translation

Okinawa: Two Postwar Novellas
by Oshiro Tatsuhiro and Higashi Mineo
Translated with an Introduction by Steve Rabson
Institute of East Asian Studies
University of California, Berkely, 1989


OkinawaTwoPostwarNovellas

  • Introduction: History of Okinawa, focussing on the early post-war period


  • English translations of the two novels that won the Akutagawa Prize for literature:

    Cocktail Party (1967) by Ōshiro Tatsuhiro
    Child of Okinawa (1972) by Higashi Mineo


Southern Exposure: Modern Japanese Literature from Okinawa
Edited by Michael Molasky and Steve Rabson
University of Hawaii Press, 2000


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  • English translations of poetry by Serei Kunio, Nakamura Kare, Tsukayama Issui, Yamanokuchi Baku, and Takara Ben


  • English translations of the following fiction:
    Officer Ukuma (1922) by Ikemiyagi Sekiho;
    Memoirs of a Declining Ryukyūan Woman (1932) by Kushi Fusako;
    Mr. Saito of Heaven Building (1936) by Yamanokuchi Baku;
    Dark Flowers (1955) by Kishaba Jun;
    Turtleback Tombs (1966) by Ōshiro Tatsuhiro;
    Bones (1973) by Shima Tsuyoshi;
    The Silver Motorcycle (1977) by Nakahara Shin;
    Love Letter from L.A. (1978) by Shimokawa Hiroshi;
    Love Suicide at Kamaara (1984) by Yoshida Sueko;
    Will o’ the Wisp (1985) by Yamanoha Nobuko;
    Droplets (1997) by Medoruma Shun.


Living Spirit: Literature and Resurgence in Okinawa
Manoa 23:1
Edited by Frank Stewart and Katsunori Yamazato
University of Hawaii Press, 2011
English Review of Living Spirit

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  • Essays by Takara Ben, Kathy Foley and Nobuko Miyama Ochner, Ōshiro Sadatoshi, Frank Steward and Katsunori Yamazato

  • English translations of the following fiction:
    Round-trip over the Ocean by Sakiyama Tami;
    The Dog Snatcher by Nakawaka Naoko;
    Mabuigumi by Medoruma Shun;
    Riding a Bus in a Castle Town by Ōshiro Tatsuhiro;
    The Wild Boar That George Gunned Down by Matayoshi Eiki;
    The Paper Plane at the Empire State Building by Nagado Eikichi

  • Poetry by Yamanoguchi Baku, Kawamitsu Shinichi, Christopher Drake, Wesley Iwao Ueunten, Yonaha Mikio, Makiminato Tokuzo, and Takara Ben

  • English translations of the following plays:
    Gods Beyond the Sea by Ōshiro Tatsuhiro;
    Possessed by Love, Thwarted by the Bell by Tamagusuku Chokun;
    The Cocktail Party by Ōshiro Tatsuhiro.



Islands of Protest: Japanese Literature from Japan
Edited by Davinder L. Bhowmik and Steve Rabson
University of Hawaii Press, 2016


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  • English translations of poetry by Tōma Hiroko, Kiyota Masanobu, Mabuni Chōshin, and Yamanokuchi Baku


  • English translations of the following fiction and drama:
Hope (1999) by Medoruma Shun;
The Kunenbo Orange Trees (1949) by Yamagusuku Seichū;
Black Diamonds (1949) by Ōta Ryōhaku;
Taiwan Woman: Record of a Fish Shoal (1983) by Medoruma Shun;
Tree of Butterflies (2000) by Medoruma Shun;
Island Confinement (1990) by Sakiyama Tami;
Swaying, Swinging (2003) by Sakiyama Tami;
The Human Pavilion (1978) by Chinen Seishin


Criticism in English on Okinawan Literature

Writing Okinawa: Narrative Acts of Identity and Resistance
by Davinder L. Bhowmik
Routledge Press, 2008


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  • Ground-breaking collection of critical essays, focusing on the most important Okinawan authors, while providing a comprehensive framework for understanding the entire genre.


  • Essays include the following:

    “The color orange in Yamagusuku Seichū’s Okinawan fiction.”
    “Subaltern identity in Taishō Japan.”
    “Marching forward, glancing backward: language and nostalgia in prewar Okinawan fiction.”
    “Ōshiro Tatsuhiro and constructions of a mythic Okinawa.”
    “Postreversion fiction and Medoruma Shun.”
    “Darkness visible in Sakiyama Tami’s island stories.”

  • A review of the book can be found here, in The Journal of Asian Studies, Vol. 70, Number 2, May 2011.

Okinawan War Memory: Transgenerational Trauma and the War Fiction of Medoruma Shun
by Kyle Ikeda
Routledge Press, 2013

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  • A comprehensive and thoroughly researched analysis of Medoruma Shun's fiction, this book is a must-read for students and scholars interested in Medoruma's work. As far as I know, this is the only book written in English that critically analyzes Medoruma's work.

  • The book draws on research on second-generation Holocaust survivors in order to shed light on how Medoruma's fiction addresses the question of how memories of the Battle of Okinawa have been passed down to later generations.

  • Chapters include the following: (1) Simmering awareness; (2) Vicarious imagination and the "Magical Real"; (3) Subjective and objective fiction: Medoruma Shun's "Spirit Stuffing" and Ōshiro Tatsuhiro's "Island of the Gods"; (4) Critical "Sentimentalism" and conscious engagement in "Tree of Butterflies"; (5) Multisensory memory and sites of trauma in Forest at the Back of My Eye.


The American Occupation of Japan and Okinawa: Literature and Memory
by Michael S. Molasky
Routledge Press, 1999

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  • A fascinating discussion of Japan’s experience of the US occupation after World War II. Molasky analyzes mainland Japanese and Okinawan literature in order to provide a deeper understanding of the Occupation as lived experience.


  • Chapters include the following:

    “Introduction: Burned-out ruins and barbed-wire fences.” [A detailed history of the occupation]

    “Roads to no-man’s land.” [Includes an analysis of Ōshiro Tatsuhiro’s
    Cocktail Party]

    “A base town in the literary imagination.” [Discusses Higashi Mineo’s
    An Okinawan Boy and the remaking of Koza]

    “A darker shade of difference.” [Discusses representations of blacks in Japanese literature]

    “Female floodwalls.” [Discusses prostitution and their depiction in Japanese fiction]

    “Ambivalent allegories.” [Examines works by three lesser-known female writers: Sono Ayako, Hiroike Akiko, and Hirabayashi Taiko.

    “The occupier within.” [Focuses on Ōe Kenzaburō’s “Human Sheep” and Nosaka Akiyuki’s “American Hijiki”]

    “Epilogue: Occupation literature in the post-Vietnam era.”

English Translations of Okinawan Literature on the Internet

“The Carnival Bullfight” (1976)
by Matayoshi Eiki
Translated by Tom Kain

“Hope” (1999)
by Medoruma Shun
Translated by Steve Rabson

“Mabuigumi (Spirit Stuffing)” (1999) (excerpt)
by Medoruma Shun
Translated by Kyle Ikea

“Stories from the Streets of Koza” (1999)
by Medoruma Shun
Translated by Sam Malissa


"Fumi (1945)" chapter 1 of In the Woods of Memory (2009) by Medoruma Shun
Translated by Takuma Sminkey