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Pahoa Japanese Community Association, Friends and Guests Celebrate 50th Anniversary

The Pahoa YBA Hall was filled with more than 130 current and former Pahoa Nikkei Jin Kai (Japanese community association) members, friends and guests to commemorate the official incorporation of the organization in 1963.

Pahoa Nissei

(seated) Fusae Arakawa, Chieko Sugimoto, Masami Ohara, Hisae Campbell, Doris Kuwahara; (second row) Albert Nishimura, Lefty Kawazoe, Kay Kawazoe, Yukio Yamamoto, Tomiye Kukino; and (standing) Sueko Arakawa, Mitsuo Miyatake, Stanley Oishi, Bernice Tanioka, Julie Uyeki, Jack Oshita, Kikuko Kuwahara and Sumiko Miyamoto

The earliest known organization – Pahoa Nihonjin Kai – was formed circa 1904 by the early Japanese immigrants who settled in Pahoa to work on the sugar plantations. Many started their own businesses and Pahoa Village became a thriving center of commerce. During World War II, the name was changed to Pahoa Zairyumin Kai( Pahoa Resident’s Association). The organization formally incorporated in 1963.

Pahoa Nikkei Jin Kai presently continues to perpetuate the goals and culture of the early forefathers and support the Japanese and Pahoa community with a variety of projects. They conduct the annual bon dance, they prepare mochi for the new year (mochi tsuki), they maintain the YBA Hall – currently used by the Big Island Boys and Girls Club for daytime youth activities – and they maintain the Pahoa Japanese Cemetery located above Pahoa town.

Current leadership includes president Craig Shimoda and officers Jason Hashimoto, Marilyn Sato, and Janet Watarida. Past presidents Stanley Oishi, Glenn Watarida and Robert Sugihara serve as advisors.

Among activities during the 50th anniversary celebration were plantation days games, identification of old photographs in the Lyman Museum collection, and honoring members 80 years of age and older (keirosha).

Part of the program included remarks from State Senator Russell Ruderman and State Representative Faye Hanohano, who were present, as well as a message from Governor Neil Abercrombie read by his Hawaii Island representative Wendy Botelho-Cortez. Messages were read from U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono, U.S. Representative Colleen Hanabusa and Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi.

“We had so much fun,” said long-time member Marilyn Sato. “Friends got re-acquainted. Everyone enjoyed the displays. My favorite moment was seeing Albert Nishimura wear a crown for winning the jun ken po competition.”

For further information on Pahoa’s early history, Hiroo Sato’s book Pahoa Yesterday can be obtained by calling Craig Shimoda at 430-6497.