Gala set to continue Gannenmono celebrations

  • Dennis Fujimoto / TGIF file photo

    Norman Hashisaka, a WWII Military Intelligence Service veteran, watches as Mabel Hashisaka greets U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono following the senator’s town hall meeting at the Chiefess Kamakahelei Middle School cafeteria in Puhi in this file photo.

  • Contributed photo

    Japanese singing sensation Torao Hikariyama (AKA Tevita Apina), performs at an earlier Kauai Matsuri Festival gathering at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall in Lihue.

  • Contributed image

    The Gannenmono sailed from Japan to the Kingdom of Hawaii aboard the Scioto (above). Leaving Yokohama on May 17, 1868, and arriving in Honolulu about a month later, on June 19, there were approximately 150 of them in all, including six women and a child.

  • Contributed photo

    Japan’s Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko greet members of the Hawaii Meiji Kai and United Japanese Society of Hawaii who were at Makiki Cemetery in this June 2018 photo. The royalty visited the cemetery to pay respects and lay wreaths at the Gannenmono Monument and the Kanyaku Imin Monument. Princess Kiko reached out and patted the shoulder of 1-year-old Hironori Tsujihara, who was in the arms of his mother, Yoshiko.

  • Dennis Fujimoto / TGIF file photo

    Volunteers from the Kauai Bonsai Club and Kauai Japanese Cultural Society join Art Umezu, the Kauai liaison for Hawaii Gannenmono, in taking a break during a passing shower at the Isenberg Japanese Garden at Lihue Civic Center that got a cleanup in advance of Gannenmono, the celebration marking the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.

Gannenmono, or the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to arrive in Hawaii, celebrations feature a trio of events for Kauai’s people to enjoy on Sept. 21 and 22.

“Our signature program is the autumn Matsuri Kauai festival,” said Jeffrey Kimoto of the Japanese Cultural Society. “This year’s theme celebrates the 150th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, and we will be having a series of events related to this celebration.”

On Sept. 21, the Japanese Cultural Society hosts the Hawaii Aloha Gala Dinner Celebration to set the stage for the Matsuri Kauai that will take place on Sept. 22.

The gala dinner will take place at the Aqua Kauai Beach Resort from 6 p.m., and features Hawaii’s own enka singer Terao Hikariyama, who recently performed at the Kauai Soto Zen temple’s bon dance.

In addition to Hikariyama, the Japanese Cultural Society will bestow its first Kansha, or Gratitude Awards, including the Kauai no Kokoro (hear) honor being conveyed upon Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho Jr., former mayor Maryanne Kusaka, and community business people Norman and Mabel Hashisaka.

Kauai no Hosho (star) honor will be presented toDr. and Mrs. Kawani, and the Niji no Kakehashi, or Rainbow Bridge, honor will be presented to Iwaki City,the Iwaki Hawaii Exchange Association, and Spa Resort Hawaiians.

The Kauai Bunka Sho, or culture and the arts, will be presented to the family of Aiko Nakaya, and the Kauai Taiko ensemble who will open the evening with its performance at 6 p.m.

Tickets for the gala are available online at, at Pono Market in Kapaa, the Kauai Museum and Kauai Kookie Kompany in Hanapepe.

Sponsorship packages are available for two people up to groups of 10 people. Advertising for the program booklet is also available.

On Saturday, the Japanese Cultural Society hosts Matsuri Kauai from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Kauai War Memorial Convention Hall, featuring many traditional and contemporary Japanese performances and demonstrations. These include kimono-dressing, handcrafted Japanese soba-making, and recognition of the Kansha Award recipients.

Following the Matsuri Kauai, Fire &Rice at Roy Yamaguchi’s Eating House 1849 at the Shops at Kukuiula opens from 6 to 9 p.m.

Yokoso, or welcome! The Eating House team takes patrons through a stroll through the streets of Japan on a culinary adventure, yatai style, where Japanese dishes and signature cocktails will be available while enjoying the sounds of the Jon Rivera Trio. Tickets are $108 including tax and gratuity.

Coming ahead of the celebration, the County of Kauai Office of Economic Development, Japanese Cultural Society with support from Kukui Grove Center present the Hawaii Nikkei Legacy Exhibit for viewing from Sept. 7 through 23 at the space located adjacent to Regis Salon.

The photographic exhibit covers the history and culture of Japanese Americans in Hawaii, and was shown in several locations around Japan in 2017. The narrative texts and captions for the photos are in both English and Japanese.

Prominent Japanese Americans from Hawaii are displayed along with the prefectures in Japan their ancestors migrated from, as the exhibit covers the initial immigration of Issei, or first-generation immigrants, in the late 1800s to modern day Hawaii. It depicts how the Nikkei, or overseas Japanese, in Hawaii have merged their Japanese cultural values with the blend of cultures in Hawaii.

The intent of the exhibit is to eduate people on the story of Hawaii’s Nikkei and to promote goodwill between Japan and the United States through deeper understanding of the cross-cultural values and customs between Japan and Hawaii.


Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or

  1. JEFFREY KIMOTO September 3, 2018 9:34 am Reply

    For sponsorship opportunities, please contact Pearl Shimizu at 822-5353 or Jeffrey Kimoto at 212-5953.

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