Fourth-generation Okinawan descendant from Hawaii Branda Nomura meets her relatives in Yomitan
June 17, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo
On June 13, 41 year-old high school teacher from Hawaii, Brenda Nomura, visited Okinawa on the high school student exchange program “Okinawa Prefectural Government Junior Study Tour,” which is run by the Hawaii United Okinawa Association and the Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education. While in Okinawa, she met Yasunori and Fujiko Matsuda, relatives on the mother’s side of her family living in Owan, Yomitan. Thrilled to meet them for the first time, Nomura said, “I have Okinawan blood. I am really moved that I have been able to find my relatives like this, and want to treasure my heritage.”
Nomura’s great-grandparents, Kensai and Kama Matsuda, were from Owan in Yomitan. In 1906, Kensai emigrated to Hawaii, before returning to Okinawa and moving again with Kama eight years later in 1914.
Nomura’s father was a father, who was a descendant of Japanese immigrants from Yamaguchi and Hiroshima and her mother was also a descendant of Okinawan immigrants. Nomura was very keen to meet her relatives in Okinawa. Tom Yamamoto, who visited Okinawa with Nomura, asked his friend living in Yomitan, Masaji Matsuda, to help, and this led to finding Yasunori and Fujiko Matsuda. Pictures of Kensai taken when he returned Okinawa in 1950s, and their store name, Miya-Machida, proved decisive in the search.
Their first meeting was at Yomitan High School, where the students from Hawaii had an exchange program.
Through finding her relatives, Nomura was impressed by the strength of the network of Okinawans.
Yasunori Matsuda said, “We haven’t had any contact with our relatives in Hawaii, so I am very happy to able to meet her.”
(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)
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