Koza X MiXitopia Research Center opens in Gintengai Shopping Arcade

Koza X MiXitopia Research Center opens in Gintengai Shopping Arcade

Eriko Ikehara (second from the left) receiving a blessing from her fellow classmates at the Koza X MiXtopia Research Center, which displays materials that were collected for research, taken on June 2 at Gintengai Shopping Arcade.

June 13, 2019 Ryukyu Shimpo

On June 2, University of California, Berkley Professor Eriko Ikehara, who has been researching the history of the black community in Teruya, Okinawa, opened the Koza X MiXtopia Research Center in the Gintengai Shopping Arcade. On the same day, an opening ceremony was held at the Teruya Community Center in which about 40 of her acquaintances attended. Ikehara spoke of her aspirations and said, “I hope to make this a place where a variety of people like local people and overseas researchers can learn from one another.”

Ikehara was born between an Uchinanchu mother and a black soldier father, and spent her childhood in Teruya. She was then adopted at the age of 14 in which she moved to the U.S. She has been researching her Okinawan roots from multiple angles through art and academic research. During her doctoral program at UC Berkeley, she researched the black community that was present in the Teruya area between the 1950s and around 1976, along with the lifestyles of local residents in the area. She did this by visiting Okinawa and creating a network for exchanging information and interacting with local residents at the Teruya Community Center, bars in the area, and the Gintengai Shopping Arcade. The network headquarters is based in Teruya.

The MiXtopia was established at the former Kanebo Plaza, which is next to a store that sells Kanebo cosmetics in the Gintengai Shopping Arcade. Ikehara is displaying material and photographs she has collected over the years with the hope of expanding her research into something multifaceted. She plans to record the untold history and stories of the Koza black community in various forms. She hopes that this will serve as a bridge between Okinawa and the U.S., along with utilizing the location to its potential.

Ikehara said, “There are some women who have gone over to the states as a result of being adopted or getting married that still have an attachment to Okinawa, but are unable to return. For the sake of Okinawa’s growth, I hope to create a place where those people can come home whenever they want.”

Okinawa City Promotion Division Section Chief Tetsu Fukuhara who attended the opening ceremony said, “If this could lead to revitalization by restoring the Koza Crossing and serve as a place for socialization, that would be great.”

(English translation by T&CT and Chelsea Ashimine)

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