Second-generation Okinawan descendant meets with her mother’s relatives in Okinawa

Second-generation Okinawan descendant meets with her mother’s relatives in Okinawa

Yasumine (second from the left) holding a photograph of her late parents, along with relative Kiyomasa Arakaki (far left), Satoru Kinjyo (second from the right), and Yoneko Kinjyo (far right), taken on April 18 in Higawa, Naha City.

April 19, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo
By Yousuke Asato

“I’m proud to have connected with Okinawa.”

On April 9, Natalie Ann Yasumine, a second-generation Okinawan descendant from Georgia, arrived in Okinawa with the goal of meeting her relatives, which she accomplished.

She received help from prefectural officials and traced the roots of her mother, who had died young in the U.S. Yasumine left on April 19 to make her way back to the states, but promised to see her relatives again and said, “Next time, I will bring back my siblings and come back to Okinawa.”

In 2014, Yasumine’s father Robert Gene Shack entrusted her with an old document, which kick-started her journey to trace her roots.

The document was the family register for her mother Setsuko (aged 50), who had passed away from cancer in 1990.

Setsuko had met and married Robert, an airman, when she was living in Osaka. They eventually settled down in Connecticut and raised one boy and four girls, including Yasumine who is the third daughter.

But Setsuko hardly spoke about Japan to her children and had never disclosed that she was from Okinawa.

“I wanted to know her life story that was a mystery.”

The fact that her father also passed away at the age of 81 seven-months after receiving the document made her determined to trace her mother’s footsteps since she felt that “It was now or never.”

The family register lists Kochinda Town, which she used to connect with her relatives. She found out that about a group related to the Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival comprised of staff at a prefectural library that helps overseas Okinawan descendants trace their roots.

From there, she connected with Naomi Shinzato, a staff member from Yaese Town, and was able to meet 65-year-old Kiyomasa Arakaki, a relative on her grandfather’s side, in the same town.

Arakaki said, “We were also in the middle of creating a family tree and were trying to gather information on Setsuko.

” Yasumine was also able to meet 53-year-old Satoru Kinjyo, a relative on her grandmother’s side.

Yasumine smiled brightly as she said, “I used to think that something was missing from my life, but I found the answer in Okinawa.

I’m proud to have found family here.”

(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)

Go To Japanese


Previous Article:
Next Article:

[Similar Articles]