Shunzo Sakamaki

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  • Born: 1906
  • Died: 1973
  • Japanese: 坂巻俊三 (Sakamaki Shunzou)

Sakamaki Shunzô was a scholar of Ryukyuan history, and professor of Japanese history at University of Hawaii at Manoa. He is considered the father of Okinawan Studies in the United States.

Born on the island of Hawaii in 1906, Sakamaki earned his PhD from Columbia University, and also studied at Dôshisha University in Kyoto, and the University of Hawaii, before becoming professor of History at the University of Hawaii, where he taught alongside the likes of George Kerr and William Lebra. One of Sakamaki's chief student assistants was Mitsugu Sakihara, who later became a prominent historian of Okinawa in his own right.

Sakamaki later became Dean of Summer Sessions at the University of Hawaii. In 1961, while in Tokyo, Sakamaki heard of the death of British book collector Frank Hawley, and proceeded to undertake a massive fund-raising campaign in order to acquire the collection for the university. He succeeded with the considerable help of the Okinawan-American community in Hawaii; upon his own death, Sakamaki's personal collection of Ryukyu-related materials was also donated to the library, and the combined Sakamaki-Hawley Collection is today the largest collection of Ryukyu-related materials in the United States.

An academic building at the University of Hawaii, Sakamaki Hall, is also named after him.