Youth on the 'Bridge to All Nations': Globalization, Chanpuruism and Everyday Life in Okinawa

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On a bell hanging in front of the main hall of the Shurijo Castle in Naha, Okinawa, the following inscription is engraved: “Ryukyu is located in a blessed region in the South Seas…sailing on ships and serving as a bridge between all nations, the land is filled with treasures.” This article, which is based on an ethnographic fieldwork in Okinawa in 2018, looks at contemporary young Okinawans’ narratives and experiences of ‘globalization’ as part of their everyday lives and future perspectives. It explores the role of the history and culture of the country – connecting it to China, Japan, and USA – in the young islanders’ local and global identities and networks. I use the Okinawan concept of chanpuru, referring to the art of fusing objects and ideas from different sources to create new cultural identities, to explain the way Okinawans reflect on global transformation processes, for example in relation to consumerism, militarism, tourism, and revitalisation of ‘Okinawan culture’ (e.g., local languages). Has the inscription on the old bell regained importance in the 21st century? How do young people from Okinawa capitalize from their cultural capital and international networks in a globalizing world? This article presents the view from an island community in transition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-30
Number of pages20
JournalYouth and Globalization
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Youth
  • Globalization
  • Islands
  • Okinawa
  • Identity
  • Everyday life


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