by Karleen C. Chinen
Bito Doshi Kai

Did you know that the Hawaiian Islands and the islands of Okinawa are home to species of plants and animals that can be found nowhere else in the world? And, did you know that one of the finest collections of rare and ancient Ryukyuan manuscripts, maps, scrolls and prints is housed right here in the Islands, at the University of Hawai‘i?

Two UH experts will share their knowledge of the subjects on Monday evening, March 18, at the Hawaii Okinawa Center, when the Hawaii United Okinawa Association launches an exciting new educational series for HUOA members and the community at large. The “Okinawan Discovery Series” will be an ongoing program highlighting Okinawa and Okinawan-related topics. HUOA’s partner in program is the University of Hawai‘i, which will share some of its experts with the HUOA. Most of the programs will be free of charge and open to the public.

The March 18 program will feature a talk by entomologist Dr. Ken Y. Kaneshiro, who has directed the Center for Conservation Research and Training at the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa since 1993. In 1988, he worked with Okinawan scientists to eradicate fruit flies in Okinawa and has, subsequently, been involved in many conferences on fruit fly eradication. Kaneshiro will introduce some of the “natural living treasures” — extremely rare species of plants, birds and insects — found only in Okinawa. He will also talk about a few of the special plant and animal species found only in the Hawaiian Islands.

Kaneshiro has been invited to speak at many national and international conferences and symposia. He also serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Nature Conservancy of Hawaii.

A Sansei whose grandparents immigrated to Hawaii from Itoman and Nishihara, he notes proudly that his father, the late Kenichi Kaneshiro, helped organize the Itoman Nisei Club in the 1950s and ’60s.

The second talk, which will focus on one of the University of Hawai‘i’s genuine treasures — the Sakamaki/Hawley Collection — will be delivered by Tokiko Y. Bazzell, who is the Japan Specialist Librarian at UH’s Hamilton Library. Hawaii’s Uchinanchu community was directly involved in the acquisition of the Sakamaki/Hawley Collection, which includes rare and ancient Ryukyuan manuscripts, maps, scrolls and prints. The collection became available in 1961 following the sudden death of its owner, English journalist Frank Hawley. Remarkably, it had survived the devastation of Okinawa during World War II. Two highly respected Okinawa scholars described the collection as containing “superior” materials, and many researchers and scholars from around the world have used materials in the collection for their research.

The University of Hawai‘i acquired the collection in March 1961 following Hawley’s death. UH Asian history professor Dr. Shunzo Sakamaki departed immediately for Okinawa to negotiate the purchase of the collection for the University of Hawai‘i from Hawley’s Okinawan widow. Five thousand dollars of the total $20,000 purchase price was raised by Hawaii’s Okinawan community within a few months. Bazzell will talk about some of the treasures in the Sakamaki/Hawley Collection.

Last November, Kaneshiro and Bazzell accompanied University of Hawai‘i President Evan Dobelle on his first trip to Okinawa. Both delivered papers at a University of Hawai‘i-University of the Ryukyus symposium that focused on resource- and knowledge-sharing between the sister universities. Hawaii’s 10-member delegation also included University of Hawai‘i Senior Vice President and Chancellor for Community Colleges Dr. Joyce Tsunoda, and Mariko Miho, Director of Fund Development for Community Colleges. Miho was previously executive director of the Hawaii Okinawa Center.

The evening will begin at 6:30 p.m. with a program of Okinawan music and dance and light refreshments. The talks will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is free and the program is open to the general public. For more information, call Gary Honda or Karen Kuba-Hori at the HUOA office at 676-5400.