Elizabeth Miki Brina’s “Speak, Okinawa”

I’m looking forward to reading Speak, Okinawa (my mother is also from Okinawa — my father is a 3rd generation Japanese-American) as I’m sure I’ll find some similarities with my own childhood. Fortunately, I’m from Hawaii where there are many like me but there were still instances where I learned that I had a different childhood from other Japanese-Americans. An example that easily comes to mind is having a friend visit our home and remarking that there’s a lot of Japanese (it was actually a mix of items from both Okinawa and Japan) things. This was the first time I thought that we were somehow different from other Japanese-American families.

Oriental Faddah and Son


A smile. Whenever I pick up Lee Tonouchi’s Oriental Faddah and Son, I can’t help but smile. The book’s cover is nicely designed and at 152 pages, it should be a fast read (compared to the 925 pages in Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 which I’m also reading) but in reality, it’s not because I often find myself rereading passages like “Why I Hate Teachers Who Nevah Seen Star Wars,” the content of which is both funny and rather sad.

From the Bess Press website:

Oriental Faddah and Son delivers “Da Pidgin Guerrilla’s” most entertaining yet poignant work to date through a combination of lamenting and humorous poems. As you read, you will journey with author Lee A. Tonouchi through childhood and adolescence into adulthood. You will laugh out loud, sometimes cry, and maybe even discover things about yourself along the way. Award winning author Tonouchi delivers a captivating, semi-autobiographical tale through his mastery of the Pidgin language. Tonouchi intricately weaves life’s most basic human elements—love and loss, birth and death—with uncovering the identity of one’s true self. In the “Guerrilla’s” case, it’s the essence of being an Okinawan in Hawaiʻi.

Now is the perfect time to pick up your copy as the Bess Press website has a holiday sale for 40% off (till 12/30/2011) so grab it now!

Introducing okinawa-sanshin.net’s kunkunshi database

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Upon hearing of okinawa-sanshin.net’s kunkunshi database my first thought was “cool, there’s finally a website that makes available kunkunshi for all to enjoy.” But, alas, the website is actually a database for existing kunkunshi books. Still, it’s a great way to search for a song to find out which kunkunshi book it’s in to save you time with your collection at home or if you’re out shopping for one.

All we can hope for in the near future is to see these book companies take the next step and go digital for say, Apple’s iPad. 😉

Sanshin Kunkunshi Database (三線工工四データベース)

Champuru.net Book Review: Snakeskin Shamisen

Snakeskin Shamisen

Snakeskin Shamisen by Naomi Hirahara

The familiarity of situations, foods, phrases, and of course, the Okinawan culture appeal to me, making this a fun, quick read.

Read the rest of Donna’s review over here. According to the author’s website, Snakeskin Shamisen (which is the third book in her Mas Arai series) has been nominated for an Edgar Allan Poe Award in the Best Paperback Original category.

Get Spooked

You can’t live in Okinawa and not hear a ghost story or two. During my stay in Shuri, I was told that Japanese soldiers can be seen marching down the Shuri streets at midnight and about a haunted park up the street from where I lived. Christopher Luna links to a book called The Ghosts of Okinawa by J.A. Hitchcock who lived in Okinawa from 1992-1995. It’s interesting to note “that both Kadena Air Base’s 18th Services Squadron and Marine Corps Community Services have special Halloween tours” that “sell out weeks in advance”. Me, I try to stay as far away from getting spooked as I can. I don’t even watch horror flicks. 😛 (Link via fybix.net.)