Lynne Kobashigawa Waihee
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

Although a grandchild of Issei grandparents, I do not consider myself a “true” Sansei, since both my parents, Toshio Kobashigawa and Matsue (Ikehara) Kobashigawa, were Kibei-Nisei (American-born Japanese/Okinawans who were taken to Japan/Okinawa by their parents and raised there after their parents had earned some money working in the cane fields). My mother was born in Lahaina, Maui, and my father in Waipahu, O‘ahu. Both left Hawai‘i at a young age and grew up in Okinawa, returning to Hawai‘i as young adults who could not speak any English.

Like many who came to Hawai‘i as Issei, my parents worked hard to provide a better life for their children. Dad worked as a carpenter for a while; Mom quickly became mother to five children — two sons, the oldest and the youngest, with three daughters in-between. My parents had the good fortune of receiving funds through tanomoshi, a mutual financial assistance system among members — generally people from the same village in the old country — who would pool their money every month and give the sum to a single member, who would later repay the debt. The funds could be used for a variety of reasons, including paying off a debt, funding a wedding or funeral or opening a business.

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Family photo of Matsue Ikehara Kobashigawa and her four children
Matsue Ikehara Kobashigawa, carrying her youngest child Tom, while her older four children stand in front. From left: Lynne (now Waihee), James Kobashigawa, Nancy (now Cox) and Jane (now Cheeseman).
Photo of The Waihee family at Washington Place in 1990.
The Waihee family at Washington Place in 1990: (from left) Gov. John Waihee III and first lady Lynne Waihee with their children Jennifer and John IV. Seated are the “first grandmas” — Mary (Purdy) Waihee and Matsue (Ikehara) Kobashigawa


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