Sakiyama Tami 崎山多美
Sakiyama Tami was born on September 3, 1954 in Iriomote, Okinawa. Her real name is Taira Kuniko. She lived on Iriomote until her second-year of junior high school. After that, she moved with her family to the Okinawa mainland, eventually settling down in Koza (current day Okinawa City). She graduated from the department of Law, Economics and Literature at the University of the Ryūkyūs.
In 1989, Sakiyama won honorable mention in the 5th Shin Okinawa Bungaku Prize [New Okinawa Literary Prize] for “Machi no hi.” She won the 19th Kyushu Geijutsusai Bungaku Prize [Kyūshū Art Festival Literary Prize] for her novella, “Suijō ōkan.” The story was also nominated for the 101st Akutagawa Prize. In 1991, she was nominated for the 104th Akutagawa Prize for “Shimagomoru.”
Sakiyama often uses Okinawan language in her stories, and in her more recent stories, she has become even more experimental by mixing Okinawan language with Japanese. Sakiyama also explores how language shapes identity. In addition, her stories often refer to the festival songs of the Yaeyama Islands, and in her essays, she has mentioned how she has felt attracted to those sounds.
Islands and Island Communities
Sakiyama Tami’s stories are often set on isolated islands. In her early island stories, she often depicts the powerful hold that islands hold over those who live there. In “Suijō ōkan,” for example, she describes an old woman who insists on staying on the island where she lived even after her death.
According to Okamoto Keitoku, Sakiyama Tami’s early stories focus on the theme of “shima” or island. He points out that the word “shima” refers not only to the actual island, but also to the local community on the island. Sakiyama Tami grew up on Iriomote Island, which has its own unique history and traditions.
Sakiyama, Tami. Kotoba no umareru basho [Where Languages are Born]. Tokyo: Sunagoya Press, 2004.
---. Kurikaeshigaeshi [Over and Over]. Tokyo: Sunagoya Press, 1994.
---. “Mienai machi kara shokanega.” Subaru. Tokyo: Shueisha, 2006. 130-44.
---. Muiani Yuraiki [The History of Muiani]. Tokyo: Sunagoya Press, 1999.
---. Nantō Shōkei. Tokyo: Sunagoya Press, 1996.
---. Yuraitiku Yuritiku. Tokyo: Kobunsha, 2003.
This report was done by Tasato Yuko, Serikyaku Kana, and Shimoji Mai.
Edited by Sminkey Takuma.