Katsunori Yamazato, University of the Ryukyus

The UHM Colleges of Arts & Sciences and The Dai Ho Chun Distinguished Lecturer Series are please to present…

The Resurgence of Okinawan Language through Contemporary Okinawan Literature

a talk by

Professor Katsunori YamazatoUniversity of the Ryukyus

November 16, 2012, 3 to 4 p.m. • Tokioka Room, Moore 319 

In the Meiji Era, the Japanese central government began forcing the Japanese language on the people of the former Ryukyuan Kingdom. Seeking to unify Japan through a single language (kokugo), the government disaparaged Ryukyuan languages as mere dialects (högen). In Okinawan schools, children were educated to identify themselves as culturally Japanese and were forbidden to speak their own languages.

The prejudice against Ryukyuan languages as inferior forms of Japanese became commonplace in Okinawa and persists to this day. However, a new generation of scholars, citizens, writers, and educators is working to revitalize the languages. As Professor Katsunori Yamazato will explain, literary authors are at the forefront of this vital movement.

Katsunori Yamazato is Professor of American Literature and Culture, University of the Ryukyus, where he is also Director of the American Studies Center. He was director of the Pacific and North/South American Research Project “Human Migration and the Twenty-first Century Global Society” and founding director of the International Institute for Okinawan Studies. He now chairs the Committee for Research, Art, and Education for the Okinawa Prefecture Promotion Committee, focusing on the revival of the Ryukyuan languages.

Professor Yamazato has published almost forty books, including translations from English into Japanese of such American writers as Gary Snyder. His recent books include Human Migration and Literature and Living Spirit: Literature and Resurgence in Okinawa. 


This lecture is made possible by the late Dr. Dai Ho Chun through his estate gift, which established the Dai Ho Chun Endowment for Distinguished Lecturers at the UH-Mänoa Colleges of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Chun was a distinguished and visionary educator. This lecture is also sponsored by the UHM Colleges of Arts and Sciences; the UHM College of Languages, Linguistics & Literature; the UHM Center for Okinawan Studies; and Mänoa: A Pacific Journal of International Writing.

Contact: Center for Okinawan Studies cos@hawaii.edu / 808)956-5754 

Yamazato flyer