Story about the Project


Early in 1998, an item was published in the Spanish section of the “La Plata Hochi” newspaper requesting photographs connected with the history of Okinawans who had settled in Argentina. They were to be considered with regard to the 90th anniversary of Okinawan immigration to Argentina, which was due to be celebrated at the premises of the Okinawan Center in Argentina (COA). This reminded me of my parents´ family album, which I reviewed for interesting photographs, and I set aside those I thought to be suitable.

I had chosen over 100 photographs, which I brought down to the same size through photostat copies. Upon showing them to the person in charge of the section, he mentioned that just one or two pictures of various families would do for a mosaic. I took the photos back in order to put aside one or two of them, to be kept handy in case they were requested, but this never happened.

During a conversation with anthropologist Isabel Laumonier, who specializes in this subject, she suggested that the photographs be arranged by nuclei of interest rather than in chronological order, for a photographic display.

Soon afterwards she informed me that the Sixth Exhibition on Trade, Technological and Cultural Exchange “100 years of Harmony and Cooperation” between Argentina and Japan 1998 was to be held at the Frers Hall of the La Rural Fair in Palermo, between 26 and 30 August 1998.

Having the date and place for the exhibition, I arranged the photographs by subjects and got them ready for the exhibition to be held precisely in August of that year, on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of Okinawan immigration to Argentina, at the premises of the Okinawan Centre in Argentina (COA).

The photographs were displayed under the heading “Kiyotomi Uehara, a witness to Okinawan immigration to Argentina. A life history through photographs from a family album.” “In celebration of the 100th anniversary of Argentine-Japanese friendship” and of the “90th anniversary of Okinawan immigration to Argentina”.

When the exhibition was over, I put the photographs away with the idea of bringing them up for the 2008 celebration.

Upon being informed of the forthcoming celebration of the 95th anniversary of Okinawan immigration in Argentina (August 2003), I contacted the Okinawan Centre of Argentina (COA) offering the photographic display for the commemoration. Upon the managers’ acceptance, I reviewed the pictures that had been exhibited. I then realized that many of them had no explanation in Japanese.

This time the display was entitled “History of Okinawan Immigration to Argentina told through photographs from a family album” “In commemoration of the 95th anniversary of Okinawan immigration to Argentina”.

It was required that the display should carry Japanese captions on a level with those in Spanish. At the translator’ s request, her name is being withheld, but I wish to gratefully acknowledge her assistance. I also wish to acknowledge with thanks Akemi Suzuyama’ s help in typing the text in Japanese, as a volunteer to the Japan International Corporation Agency (JICA).. The entire production was reviewed by my father, Kiyotomi Uehara, at the request of the translator into Japanese.

Furthermore I wish to acknowledge Isabel Laumonier’s guidance as to the way of presenting the photographs for the display, and Irene Luparia’s help in the selection, as well as Charmian Brainwood, Marisa Serebrenik and Sara Gullco’s English renditions.

The photographs are set into groups related to ten centers of interest which have to do with the various aspects of Kiyotomi Uehara’s life, coincidental with those of Okinawan immigrants to Argentina.

In the conclusion, I included information concerning the nine brothers and sister of Kiyotomi Uehara, eight of whom emigrated to the American continent, the eldest to Brazil, the other seven to Argentina. Only their eldest sister remained in Okinawa Island.

At the end of "Family life" Section, it includes: "The family tree of the Uehara family of Nakijin".

Elena Uehara

UP