There are numerous organizations in the State of Hawai’i that foster friendship and connect people between Hawaii and Japan. Some are culture-based, others are business-based, location-based, event-based or history-based. To celebrate the auspicious occasion of the first arrival of immigrants from Japan 150 years ago, twenty of these organizations, called the KIZUNA GROUP (kizuna means “bond”), have pulled together to form the GANNENMONO COMMITTEE to represent the Japanese-American community in Hawaii. The KIZUNA group members are comprised of individuals from various walks of life and from different organizations each with a different purpose and mission. But the one thing they all share is their passion and desire to perpetuate the history of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii; to foster friendship between Hawaii and Japan; and to remember what their ancestors brought, established, and nourished in the Islands. The GANNENMONO COMMITTEE, with guidance from the Consulate-General of Japan in Honolulu, will coordinate various activities throughout 2018 to celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the arrival of the GANNENMONO to Hawaii in 1868.


In 1860, King Kamehameha IV proposed a friendship treaty between Japan and the Kingdom of Hawaii when two groups of delegates visited Honolulu, one with the chief and deputy delegates on the Powhatan in March 1860 and another with John Manjiro and Yukichi Fukuzawa on the Kanrin-Maru in May the same year. In 1865 Eugene Van Reed, a Japan based American businessman, was appointed as Consul General of Hawaii in Japan by the Kingdom of Hawaii. History then took an important turn: the government of the shogun, based in Edo Castle, surrendered in May of 1868 and the process of restoring the imperial court to power began, symbolized by the advent of the new era known as Meiji. The Meiji government, however, did not permit overseas travel. So, in May of 1868, about 150 Japanese nationals departed the port of Yokohama on the ship Scioto landing in Honolulu on June 20th. The Gannenmono (meaning “first-year folks”) were not highly regarded in Japan because they were technically illegal travelers, although they got along well with the local community in Hawaii and were highly regarded there. Out of approximately 150 Gannenmono that arrived, 7 passed away before their contract ended, 54 eventually returned to Japan, and among those who didn’t return to Japan, nearly half of them moved to the mainland and the rest chose to settle in Hawaii.

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2018 Events calendar of Hawaii organizations.

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The GANNENMONO COMMITTEE is working with each of the twenty KIZUNA organizations to schedule events throughout 2018 to celebrate a GANNENMONO-themed year. The Committee will also organize a joint COMMEMORATION CEREMONY and coordinate a SYMPOSIUM to take place on June 7, 2018 at the Sheraton Waikiki Hotel. Invitations have been extended to Dr. Dennis Ogawa (Professor, University of Hawai’I at Manoa); Dr. Akemi Kikumura (Visiting Scholar, UCLA); and Dr. Masako Iino (former-President, Tsuda College) to discuss the Gannenmono, the issue of first generations and their legacies, cultural and ethnic diversity and co-existence. The panel will be moderated by Cyrus Tamashiro. Tickets will be available online for a full day of GANNENMONO celebrations with the Kizuna Group members together with the many guests that we hope will be joining us. Sponsorship opportunities will be available and donations are welcome. Information on the events will be available on our website. Through the GANNENMONO WEBSITE, information will be made public for all events that will take place throughout the year, including the Ceremony and Symposium.

The ASSOCIATION OF NIKKEI AND JAPANESE ABROAD (ANJA) will hold their 59th annual convention in Hawaii on June 6, 2018 in conjunction with the GANNENMONO festivities. Other organizations are also invited to join in and applications to participate will be available on the GANNENMONO website.