The East Hawai‘i-based Japanese Community Association of Hawaii will recognize two longtime businesses at its sixth annual Nikkei Kigyo banquet, set for Friday, May 10, at Nani Mau Gardens.

Hirano Store, which was established 1918, and Yamada Furniture, founded in 1929, will be presented JCAH’s 2019 Nikkei Kigyo Award.

“We’re proud to recognize both companies — Hirano Store, now led by a third-generation family member, and Yamada Furniture, now being led by third- and fourth-generation family members,” said JCAH president Mike Miyahira. “They truly epitomize the Japanese values of gaman — perseverance, otagai — deep sense of obligation and gambaru — hard work.”

Hirano Store was founded by Naojiro and Shige Hirano, who immigrated to Hawai‘i from Shizuoka to work for ‘Öla‘a Sugar Company. They opened Hirano Store in Glenwood in 1918 and quickly became the place residents of Glenwood and neighboring communities turned to for their basic necessities, to stock up on canned goods, kerosene and other supplies.

World War II affected the Hirano family. Naojiro was arrested and interned on the U.S. mainland because of his business and close ties to the Japanese community.

Hirano Store celebrated its 100th anniversary last February.

Yamada Furniture Store, Ltd. was established in August 1929 by Iwakichi Yamada, who immigrated to Hawai‘i from Kumamoto. He held many jobs —sugar plantation laborer, stone wall builder, shoyu factory worker, farmer, ranch hand and hunter — before purchasing the Kim Furniture Store on Kïlauea Avenue with no prior experience in running a furniture business. He taught himself the business and ran it with help from his wife, Toki, who did the sewing and upholstery work.

The Yamadas’ Nisei sons — Masao, Tatsuo and Yoshitaro — took over the business after their parents retired. They proceeded to grow and improve the business, even building a new two-story building that featured Hilo’s first elevator. In 1978, Yamada Furniture moved to its current location on Kino‘ole Street.

Tatsuo firmly believed in involving the children in family-owned business and hoped that his own children would keep the family business going. Today, members of the fourth generation of the Yamada ‘ohana are involved in the business, growing Yamada Furniture in new and innovative ways.

Proceeds from the Nikkei Kigyo banquet will benefit the Japanese Community Association of Hawaii’s scholarship program and support and allow JCAH to perpetuate its mission. For more information, visit


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