Hawaii Fukuoka Kenjin kai

The Beginning

 

 

The first group of Government Contract laborers from Fukuoka arrived at Honolulu Harbor on the second ship, the Yamashiro Maru, on the 17th of June 1885, and consisted of 133 men, 13 women and 3 little boys.  Most of them were farmers in Japan and they were in the first “Imin” group that came to Hawaii.

 

For almost 35 years, there was no word of where they were living or of what they were doing.

 

In early 1920, Mr. Yoshimatsu Hata, a member of the “True Friendship Committee”, began his research about them.  He traveled not only to Oahu but also to the islands of Maui, Hawaii, Kauai and Niihau to gather all the names and information of immigrants from Fukuoka.  He also took pictures of some of the immigrants.

 

It took him 1 ½ years to gather the information needed to establish a seiyukai (friendship book) listing all immigrants from Fukuoka.

 

He published his book through the Kanebo Printing Company of Asakusa in Tokyo, Japan.  The books were ready to be shipped to Honolulu from Yokohama on September 2, 1923.

 

Unfortunately, the great Kanto Earthquake occurred on September 1st and destroyed everything.  Mr. Hata decided to republish the books despite financial difficulties.  Six months later in 1924, the books were republished.  It was almost 2 years since he began his research of the whereabouts of the people from Fukuoka Prefecture.

 

The book was titled Fukuoka Kenjin Hawaii Zairyu Kinen Shiyashincho (commemoration of the people from Fukuoka Prefecture residing in Hawaii and their names and pictures).  It included a listing of 877 families or individuals from Fukuoka.  The breakdown was as follows:  Oahu 404, Maui 124, Hawaii 234, Niihau 2, and Kauai 113.

 

Prior to World War II, the Fukuoka Kenjin Kai was an active organization with a large membership under the leadership of Presidents Eijiro Nishijima and Minoru Nakano.  When World War II started (December 1941) the kenjin kai was forced to disband.

 

 

Re-establishment

 

In 1956 the governor of Fukuoka Prefecture, Shikaroku Tsuchiya, visited Hawaii on his way back to Japan from Europe and the U.S. mainland.  At a welcoming reception hosted by the Japanese Consulate, the governor strongly suggested that the kenjin kai be revived under the name, Hawaii Fukuoka Kenjin Kai.  As a result after sixteen years of inactivity, the kenjin kai was re-established.

 

Several meetings were held with officers from the various gunjinkais such as Chikusuikai, Asakura Gunjinkai, Chikujyo Gunjinkai, and Miyako Gunjinkai.  A kick-off banquet was held at the Kanraku Tea House, located at the time on Vineyard Boulevard.

 

Mr. Naonobu Yoshino, a Pawaa drugstore owner and pharmacist was elected as its first President, with Jirosaku Nagano as Secretary and Bunji Shimomura as Treasurer.

 

The Hawaii Fukuoka Kenjin Kai membership started with only 21 families and later grew to 350 families.  Subsequently, the membership declined over the years.  Currently, the membership consists of approximately 150 families and is showing signs of growth.

 

 

 

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Cached at: 2018-12-16 02:32:27am