Book helps author meet grandson of working woman in fishing town

Book helps author meet grandson of working woman in fishing town

At the Itoman Fishermen’s Restaurant in Nishizaki, Itoman, Hiroyasu Tamashiro (right) and Hisako Kato (left), who met through her book and a newspaper article.


February 15, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

Hisako Kato, a Hosei University researcher who has studied Itoman uminchu (fishermen) culture, visited Okinawa to meet Hiroyasu Tamashiro, a local who is to open a fishermen’s style restaurant in Itoman. Tamashiro is from Itoman and is the grandson of an 84 year-old owner of a fish store there, Yoshiko Kinjo, whom Kato introduced in her book published last year. Kato came across an article in the Ryukyu Shimpo reporting that Tamashiro was inspired to open the restaurant by reading her book. This led them to meet.

Kato is from Yokohama and belongs to the Hosei University Institute of Okinawan Studies. Last March she published the book Fishermen of Okinawa – the life and times of Itoman uminchu. In the book, she gave the results of her research, including many interviews carried out over 28 years in fishing towns of Itoman and Yaeyama.

At the start of the book, Kato introduced Yoshiko’s daily life running the fish store with her three friends. Tamashiro said that when he read the book, he felt a connection and that heightened his desire to open the restaurant. When the Ryukyu Shimpo reported this on January 4, Kato read the article and then made contact with Yoshiko after finding her contact details in her research notebook.
Kato was thrilled to be able to meet Yoshiko, who has been in hospital. “The book created connections with people,” said Kato.

Tamashiro will open the Itoman Uminchu Restaurant at Nishizaki, Itoman on February 20. He will offer traditional uminchu dishes such as fish soup arranged to match contemporary culinary styles. Uminchu used to build their houses with coral limestone, so the restaurant is built in similar style.

Kato wishes Tamashiro well, saying, “I am happy that people of the younger generation are striving to continue disappearing traditions.”
Tamashiro said, “I would like to promote fish soup to the extent that many fish soup restaurants appear in Itoman.”

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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