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The Ryukyu Kingdom: Cornerstone of East Asia; By Akamine Mamoru, via the University of Hawaii Press
Topic Started: Apr 6 2018, 05:30 PM (174 Views)
Nerroth
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Merchant
I wasn't sure if this was as good a spot as any to mention (or ask about) this volume, but has anyone here considered reading The Ryukyu Kingdom: Cornerstone of East Asia? The book is an English edition of a work by Akamine Mamoru, translated by Lina Terell, edited by Robert Huey, and published by the University of Hawaii Press.

(Interesting how the words "Ryukyu" and "Hawaii" often appear together. I wonder why that is...)

The book looks at the fate of Ryukyu from the Gusuku period through to the annexation of Ryukyu as Okinawa Prefecture and its immediate aftermath. It has some interesting details, from the "classic" design of Sui Gusuku (Shuri Castle) to the course of a sample envoy from Ryukyu to China and back again.

It's available in print form, as well as in a Kindle edition.
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Toranosuke
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Tosa no kami
hi Nerroth,

I actually did recently read this book. Akamine focuses much more on Ryukyu's relationship with China than with Japan, but with the exception of that (understandable and acceptable) slant, I found it a very nice overview of the history of the kingdom.
And it brings a lot of details and arguments that I've previously only seen in the Japanese-language scholarship into English. A nice addition to the extremely meager, but slowly growing, body of English-language material on Ryukyuan history.

Have you read it yet?
上り口説 Nubui Kuduchi – Musings on the arts of Japan and beyond
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ltdomer98
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Daijo Daijin

I knew Bob Huey has been doing a lot of work with Okinawa, and for a while was the director of the COS (and was director of the Center for Japanese Studies when I was there) and then head of the Japanese Lang and Lit department (He is now on leave to get some "real work" done, from his last email this winter).

Can't tell if you're being tongue in cheek with the link to the Center for Okinawan Studies at UH, but if you're asking why UH has a Center for Okinawan Studies, there's a few reasons. First, obviously, is that many of the Nisei "Japanese" in Hawaii actually came from Okinawa. The second is that, for certain groups, there's an affinity and sense of solidarity as two island kingdoms essentially taken over by colonial powers. The radical nationalists in both places calling for independence share a lot of information and contacts. Now, is that why UH has a Center? Probably not, but the ties between Hawaii and Okinawa are pretty tight, and so if you were asking a serious question, there you go.
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Nerroth
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Merchant
I have the Kindle edition, which I am currently re-reading.

For one thing, I find myself wondering how much of the material on Old Ryukyu in this volume may be echoed, or perhaps re-appraised, by the upcoming Maritime Ryukyu book.

For example, I'm curious as to whether or not there will be any further notes in that volume on how the gradual decline of the kingdom's southern trade routes in South-East Asia (in part due to the arrivals of the Spanish and Portuguese to the region) gradually narrowed the scope of the kingdom's economic and political activities, and how much this in turn may have went towards undermining the kingdom's standing even as the Shimazu steadily encroached upon Ryukyu's sovereignty in the decades prior to the invasion of 1609.


And yes, I was perhaps being a little rhetorical with the Hawaii-Okinawa comment, but it is interesting (and welcome) to see how the presence of a significant Uchinanchu community had encouraged the University of Hawaii to set up a centre for Okinawan Studies - and how, in turn, that centre has helped drive UH Press to expand upon the range of English-language works covering all things Ryukyu.
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