Robert Kajiwara is the best-selling Okinawan Hawaiian singer-songwriter, author, and visual artist. He has been widely celebrated in the Asia-Pacific region, and has gained numerous honors and distinctions. Kajiwara has been featured in over 40 news and media publications in more than 12 countries, including the Associated Press, BBC World, the Washington Post, People's Daily, Japan Times, and many more. He is president of the Peace For Okinawa Coalition. For more information, please see his website RobKajiwara.com.
Kajiwara has been an outspoken human rights advocate, particularly for peace, environmental, and indigenous rights. On December 8, 2018 he started a petition calling for a halt to the construction work of a new military base at Henoko, Okinawa. The petition quickly garnered international attention, amassing over 100,000 signatures within just 10 days, and currently has over 211,000 signatures, including from many notable celebrities. He has traveled extensively to advocate for the rights of Ryukyuans and Hawaiians.
Full name: Robert Adam Takamasa Hernandez Fija (Higa) Kajiwara
English: Robert Kajiwara
Hawaiian: Lopaka Kapiwala
English: Robert Kajiwara
Hawaiian: Lopaka Kapiwala
Owing to his multicultural background, Rob is known by various names in different parts of the world. In the the continental United States, he is mostly known as Rob Kajiwara. Amongst Hawaiian and Hawaiian Pidgin speakers, he is known as Lopaka Kapiwala. In Ryukyu he is known as 比嘉孝昌、or simply as ロバート。Among Chinese speakers, he is known as 魏孝昌。
Honors and Awards:
- Named a Special Envoy for Ke Aupuni O Hawaii (the Hawaiian Kingdom).
- Named a Cultural Representative for Nakagusuku Village, Okinawa.
- Graduated summa cum laude from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
- Awarded the Sunshine Brooks Scholarship.
- Graduated with honors from Leeward Community College.
- Nominated to the Golden Key Honors Society.
- Nominated to Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society.
Waipahu Community School (Waipahu, Hawaii)
Charles A. Lindbergh Senior High (Renton, Washington)
Green River College (Auburn, Washington)
Leeward Community College (Pearl City, Hawaii)
University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu, Hawaii)
University of Nebraska at Kearney (Kearney, Nebraska)
Master of Arts in History, World focus, "Ryukyu Identity," thesis (University of Nebraska at Kearney) (2019)
Bachelor of Arts in History, Asia/Pacific focus (University of Hawaii at Manoa, Center for Okinawan Studies.)
Associate of Arts in Teaching (Leeward Community College)
Certificate of Global Studies (Leeward Community College)
Substitute Teaching Certificate (Waipahu Community School)
- Substitute Teacher - Waipahu High School / Waianae High School
- Para-teacher - August Ahrens Elementary School, Waipahu, Hawaii
- Community House Assistant - Bluewater Mission, Kalihi, Hawaii
- Student Teacher / After School Leader - Hawaii Baptist Academy, Nu'uanu, Hawaii
- Uwajimaya - Seattle, Washington
- Costco - Issaquah, Washington
Ancestry & Parents
Okinawan, Ainu, Native American (Nahua / Raramuri) Hawaiian.
Rob is the first-born child of a 2nd generation Nahua / Raramuri (Native American) father and a 3rd generation Ryukyuan mother. As is typical of most Ryukyuans, Rob's Ryukyu genealogy dates back over a thousand years. His great-grandfather migrated from Tumai, Nakagushiku, Okinawa to Hawaii in 1907. His great-grandmother from the same village later followed as a mail-order bride. His grandfather's mother was an Ainu orphan from Nagano, Japan, who later migrated to Hawaii, also as a mail-order bride. All of Rob's maternal great-grandparents were plantation workers in Hawaii. As a child, Rob's grandfather witnessed the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941. On his paternal side, his great-great-grandmother was brought from Africa to Latin America as a slave, and later gained freedom in Mexico. His paternal grandparents migrated from Mexico to California, though his dad's father was an abusive alcoholic who abandoned the family when his dad was a child, leaving Rob's grandmother to raise her six children by herself.
As a child, Rob's father assisted his mother by working in strawberry fields. As an adult he moved to Hawaii, where he worked at a photo lab and met Rob's mother. He gave up a promising tennis career in order to raise a family. He later became a photo lab manager at Costco, before being promoted to a regional bakery and food court manager at Costco's headquarters in Issaquah, Washington. Rob's mother is a registered nurse.
Rob was born prematurely when his parents went on an emergency trip to San Francisco to see his dad's brother who was deathly ill. Due to complications from birth, Rob had to stay in the hospital in San Francisco for two months before doctors cleared him to fly home to Hawaii. (Please not that Rob is not from San Francisco and has never lived there - his birth there was accidental due to an emergency circumstance.)
As a child, Rob would often play by himself, imagining himself to be a musician and filmmaker. He would write songs, stories, and imaginary television shows and movies, and try to perform them.
Rob became a Beatles fan at a young age. He found a cassette tape of Rubber Soul in his dad's car, and a tape of the Beatles' Blue Album in his mother's car, and listened to them non-stop. He would eventually acquire and memorize the entire Beatles' catalogue. He also studied Hawaiian music at school. He began playing the violin at age 11, which he would play until age 17.
Rob began playing baseball at the age of seven.
Early Adult Life
Despite Rob's early interest in music, he did not begin playing piano and guitar until age 18. He later met maestro Nelson Del Pino, who would not only become Rob's music teacher, but would also become his producer and manager. Rob credits Del Pino as having taught him almost everything he knows about music. Learn more about Rob's musical biography here.
As an adult Rob inherited his great-grandfather's sanshin (traditional Okinawan musical instrument), and began taking lessons from the Hawaii Okinawan Center. He later began taking lessons from Arakachi Tokusho in Kuba, Nakagusuku, Okinawa.
During college, Rob studied Hawaiian and Okinawan history, where he learned about the similar histories of oppression that both Hawaii and Okinawa have faced. (His studies include time at the Center for Okinawan Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.) He graduated summa cum laude from the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
He began volunteering with the Hawaiian Kingdom, and would later be promoted to Hawaiian Kingdom Special Envoy to the Ryukyu Islands and China.
The Peace for Okinawa Coalition - PeaceForOkinawa.org
Rob's personal blog - Musings of an Earth Alien
Rob Kajiwara's Music Blog - robkajiwaramusic.blogspot.com
Robʻs baseball blog: https://kajiwarabaseball.blogspot.com
Old Blog - https://robkajiwara.blogspot.com