Skip to Main Content

Okinawa Studies Research Guide: Literature

This guide to introduce you to resources on contemporary Okinawan issues.

What is Okinawa Literature?

There is no formal consensus on the origin or definition of Okinawa literature, but it is often referred to as modern literature written in or about Okinawa since the formation of the prefecture in 1879. Okinawa literature includes many works in poetry, tanka, haiku, novels, plays, essays, folklore, Ryūka, and literary reviews.

Yamanokuchi Baku and Ikemiyagi Sekiho were among the first prominent Okinawan authors whose literary works began to transcend the boundaries of Okinawa. Postwar, Okinawan literature began gaining national acclaim through notable works such as Ōshiro Tatsuhiro’s “Cocktail Party" (1967) which won the 57th Akutagawa Prize and Higashi Mineo’s "Okinawan Boy" (1971) which won the 66th Akutagawa Prize. Many of these prominent works in modern Okinawa literature reflect Okinawa's social and political climate under US military occupation post-World War II and post-reversion.

Prominent Okinawan writers such as Matayoshi Eiki, Medoruma Shun, and Sakiyama Tami continue to shape Okinawa literature, and various Okinawa-focused literary awards continue spotlighting rising writers. Okinawa literature perpetually evolves with the publishing of literary works in English, the emergence of new talent, and the continuing dialogues of Okinawa. 

Online Resources for Okinawan Literature


Foundational Anthologies and Reference Books (Japanese)

Foundational Anthologies (English)

Okinawa Literary Awards

The careers of many prominent authors and poets of Okinawan literature began with their works being recognized by Okinawa-focused literary awards. Below are 9 literary awards awarded to writers born or living in Okinawa.

Recent Acquisitions on Okinawan Literatures

GW Libraries • 2130 H Street NW • Washington DC