On July 24th, 12 members of the first NAJC Hawai’i Heritage Tour began their tour of the Island of Oahu. One of the main objective was to connect with and to learn about the history and the challenges faced by our Japanese American cousins. It was timely that this year was also the 25th anniversary of the Japanese American and Japanese Canadian Redress Settlements. As I have noted in my previous articles, President Ronald Regan’s signing of the Civil Liberties Act HR 442 on August 10 1988 contributed to the Canadian redress settlement on September 22, 1988.
On our first full day in Paradise, the group visited the Japanese Cultural Centre of Hawai’i jcch.com. Guided by doyen Derrick Iwata (Volunteer Directory/Education Assistant), we were given an in-depth history of the Nikkei pioneers to Hawai’i through their current exhibit: Okage Sama De: I Am What I Am Because Of You. We were made aware that many Nikkei pioneers to Hawai’i came from the same prefectures as those who settled in Canada; in particular the prefectures of Hiroshima and Wakayama. The exhibition was professional, highly informative and enhanced with numerous cultural artifacts. Afterwards, JCCH volunteers Betsy Young and Marilyn Higashide made a Power Point presentation of the Honouliuli Internment Camp that was located just north of Honolulu (see Terry Watada, May 2013 Bulletin) that held about 300 detainees at any one time during the war. At the time of the Pearl Harbour attack, 40% of Hawai’i was of Japanese ancestry, making it impossible for the authorities to detain half of the State’s population. Consequently community leaders, language school officials, commercial fishermen, newspaper editors as well as Buddhist and Shinto priests were interned. Tour members shared personal reflections about Canadian internment experiences with our hosts and the visit that was originally scheduled for one hour became a highly informative three hour visit. Mahalo nui loa to Derrick, Betsy and Marilyn for your time, hospitality and aloha.
A visit to Fort Derussy Military Museum never disappoints and is a ‘must-see’ for people of Japanese ancestry. The exploits of the 442nd ‘Go for Broke’ Combat Regiment – one of the most decorated regiment of World War II – is told with pride. In addition, there is a special exhibit honouring the son of Kauai, retired four-star general and current Secretary of Veterans Affairs, Eric Shinseki.
Another reason why Nikkei love to visit Hawai’i is the availability of those hard-to-find Japanese groceries and innovative kitchen utensils. For many years, Shirokiya shirokiya.com, located inside the Ala Moana Shopping Centre, was the place to go but not today as they have moved away from groceries – although their second floor bento service is recommended. Don Quijote donquijotehawaii.com located a few blocks north of the Ala Moana Shopping Centre is where locals and tourists go for cheap and varied groceries. To my joy, I found my favorite Satsuma imo zochu, Shiranami as well as other shochu from Kagoshima. A note to myself – take a lighter suitcase to pack more groceries.
Fans of Japanese sumo will know that Hawai’i has produced several outstanding wrestlers. Takamiyama (Jessse Kuhaula); Konishiki (Salevaa Atisone); Musashimaru (Fiamalu Penitani a Samoan raised in Hawai’i) and Chad Rowan (Akebono). Akebono became the first foreigner to become Yokozuna (Grand Champion) in 1993. Our tour made a brief stop at Waimanalo (Akebono’s home town) to have pictures taken beside the life-size statue of him. Continuing along the scenic ‘windward side’ of Oahu, we visited the Valley of Temples’ Byodo-in that is a smaller version of the temple in Uji, Japan.
Lunch was in the North Shore town of Haleiwa at Macky’s Shrimp, one of many garlic-infused shrimp trucks found along the Kamehameha Highway. Since there is always a huge waiting line at Matsumoto’s, dessert was at Aoki’s Shaved Ice – a full meal itself.
For those of you who were unable to join us this summer, we hope to begin planning the 2014 Summer Hawai’i Tour so please stay tuned. Over the coming months, we will have articles in The Bulletin written by tour members who will talk about other highlights from the tour.
NAJC AGM 2013
The Toronto Chapter is busy in their preparations to host the delegates/alternates to this year’s AGM being held in the city. A full report on the AGM will be posted in my October report to you.