Photo Exhibit on Hawai‘i AJAs Connects in Japan
Byrnes Yamashita and Jon Ishihara
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald
The photographic exhibit, “The Hawaii Nikkei Legacy,” highlighting the story of Japanese immigration to Hawai‘i and the experiences of Hawai‘i’s Japanese Americans from past to present recently wrapped up a successful tour of four cities in Japan, touching Nihonjin (Japanese people) with ties to Hawai‘i. The history of how Nikkei, or Nikkeijin — people of Japanese ancestry who immigrated to other countries — came to settle in Hawai‘i is proving to be of interest to the Japanese.
Thus far, the exhibit has enjoyed showings at the Japanese Overseas Migration Museum in Yokohama, in Tökyö, Fukushima City and Hiroshima City. The showings were co-sponsored by the Nisei Veterans Legacy, Japan America Society of Hawaii and the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i.
In each venue, Japanese attendees have shared their feelings about the exhibit, including personal stories about family members and friends who immigrated to Hawai‘i. Some attendees shed tears. An older woman who came to see the exhibit at the Minpo Publishing Company building in Fukushima City with her adult son was emotional before she had even seen the panels.
Another woman who saw it at the historic former Bank of Japan building in Hiroshima showed Byrnes Yamashita of the NVL and other exhibit supporters a photograph of her grandfather’s funeral in Hawai‘i and a family tree that she had brought with her. As she shared her family’s Hawai‘i story, she started to weep, which touched everyone in attendance.
Byrnes Yamashita is with the Nisei Veterans Legacy and has been involved in educational programs in Hawai‘i and Japan. Jon Ishihara is a member of the Sons & Daughters of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and the exhibit committee. He traveled to Fukushima as a volunteer to assist with the exhibit’s showing there and was humbled by those who shared their family stories with him.
To read the rest of this article, please subscribe to The Herald!