Four Monuments that Honor the First Japanese in Hawai‘i
Jodie Chiemi Ching
Fifty years ago, the centennial anniversary of the arrival of the first immigrants from Japan was marked with the unveiling of several monuments around the state. The monuments were meant to honor the Gannenmono, the “First-year People” from Japan, and to remind their descendants and future generations of their connection to Japan and of their immigrant roots.
In 1927, the last two surviving Gannenmono in Hawaii — Sentarö Ishii, 94 at the time, and Hanzo Tanagawa, then 89 — participated in the unveiling of what was probably the first monument honoring the “First-Year People” at Makiki Cemetery. A group known as Japanese Friends of Hawaii led the effort to erect the organic rock monument. The inscription on the monument reads: