Members of the Okinawan Genealogical Society of Hawaii pose for a photo during its first bonenkai celebration in three years. (Photo courtesy of the Okinawan Genealogical Society of Hawaii)


 The Okinawan Genealogical Society of Hawaii held its annual bonenkai (end of the year) party on Saturday, Nov. 19, at the Hawaii Okinawa Center in Waipi‘o. It was the first bonenkai celebration in three years due to the COVID-19 pandemic and there was a joyful and festive atmosphere as the members and their families enjoyed the celebration.

OGSH president, Donna Nakamura, welcomed all in attendance and introduced the special guests. Albert Katsuyama provided a warm remembrance of Dr. Bernice Hirai who recently passed away and had provided the impetus for the founding of the OGSH.

The makings of OGSH was established in 1993 after Dr. Hirai and the Hawaii Hiroshima Heritage Study Group conducted a genealogy workshop. Then, the Okinawan Heritage Club emerged from a meeting with the Hawaii United Okinawa Association and in 1997, the club added a genealogy component and changed its name to the Okinawan Genealogical Society of Hawaii. The group began with 34 Okinawan immigrants and now has more than 100 members. The mission of the Okinawa Genealogical Society of Hawaii is “to promote, preserve and perpetuate our Okinawan family heritage through education, research and networking.” The OGSH now delivers educational lectures to promote Okinawan culture and history and offers free genealogy services, with a database of over 50,000 Okinawans who emigrated to over 29 countries around the world from 1900 to 1937. Much of the original data was written in kanji and has been translated into English by OGSH volunteers.

The theme of this year’s bonenkai party was Ukaji Debiru (in honor of our ancestors). Two different video presentations were shown. One featured old photos of immigrant families from Okinawa and one showing the major events over the past two-plus years including members of this year’s awardees, meeting presentations and the OGSH room at this year’s Okinawan Festival.

Entertainment included Okinawan dances by Dazzman Toguchi and several songs by Gay Hongo who was accompanied by her niece Cheryl Toma Sanders on electric piano. OGSH member Fred Shinsato played sanshin (three-stringed Okinawan musical instrument) for one of the numbers.

Rousing Karii were led by First Vice President Ken Kamiya and John Tasato. The program ended with a joyful kachashi (Okinawan folk dance) led by HUOA’s executive director Jon Itomura.

For more information about the Okinawan Genealogical Society of Hawaii, please visit


Larry Miwa retired as senior vice president of First Foundation Bank, Honolulu Branch, after a stellar career in banking at the “youthful” age of 91! Miwa has dedicated his career with more than 50 years of banking expertise in both Hawai‘i and internationally with Japan and is a fourth-generation Japanese American. His great-grandfather was the “first Miwa” in his family to arrive in Hawai‘i in the late 1800s and worked in the Hawaiian sugar plantations. Subsequently, Larry’s grandfather and his own father followed. World War II affected the Miwa family as Larry’s family relocated to Hiroshima, Japan, when he was just two-years-old in 1933, where he grew up wholly Japanese.

Larry Miwa retires at age 91. (Photo courtesy of the Larry Miwa Peace Foundation, Inc.)

At the age of 14, Larry and his family experienced the Hiroshima atomic bombing and lost everything but their lives. Additionally, the Miwa family business holdings in Hawai‘i were confiscated due to the war between Japan and the U.S.

Larry is quoted as saying, “Having nothing means it’s okay. You can always start from nothing.” Larry’s multigenerational transnational story was written by local Hawai‘i author Tom Coffman, entitled “Tadaima! I Am Home” and is available at

Recently, at the 25th Anniversary Sister-State Relationship reception (hosted by then-state of Hawai‘i Governor David Ige and First Lady Dawn Amano-Ige) on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at Washington Place. Hiroshima governor, Hidehito Yuzaki, presented Larry with a special commendation, recognizing him for his peace related activities as a hibakusha (Hiroshima a-bomb survivor).

Incidentally, Larry maintained a student diary from July 4, 1945, through his survival of atomic bombing and into the following autumn. Larry’s memoirs are scheduled to be published in 2023 and a portion of the proceeds from the sale of the book will be donated to peace-related causes through his own Larry Miwa Peace Foundation.

Additionally, 100% of all monetary donations made out to Larry’s non-profit organization will be redistributed to peace organizations that we have been fortunate to collaborate with around the world.

For further information about “Tadaima! I Am Home!” Larry’s forthcoming diary-book publication or the Larry Miwa Peace Foundation, please contact Larry’s son, Stephen Miwa, via email: or you are welcome to leave a voice message or text to Stephen at 808-258-9024.

The Larry Miwa Peace Foundation is a non-profit organization established to donate Larry’s book sale proceeds to other non-profit peace organizations and those associated with the eradication of nuclear weapons. Donations to the Larry Miwa Peace Foundation are being accepted at: 1 Keahole Place, Apartment 3204, Honolulu, HI 96825.

-By the Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjin Kai


The Little Tokyo Historical Society, in partnership with the Japanese American National Museum’s Discover Nikkei project, celebrates their annual 10th Anniversary Imagine Little Tokyo Short Story Contest. Writers can enter their fictional story, which must take place in Little Tokyo, by Tuesday, Jan. 31. Winners of the adult, youth (18 and under) and Japanese language categories will receive a prize of $1,000.


  • The story must be original, fictional, written in either Japanese or English by the submitting author and never been published (even online).
  • The same story submitted in a previous year cannot be resubmitted.
  • The setting of the story should be in Little Tokyo – either past, present or future.
  • Submitted manuscript should be 2,500 words or less for English or 5,000 ji or less for Japanese and have a title.
  • File should be a Microsoft Word doc, docx or rtf.
  • For English-language entries, please use a 12-point font, preferably Times Roman or Courier type and double space.
  • Please remove any mention of your name from your short story, including headers.
  • The short story manuscript must be submitted digitally as an e-mail attachment to (include SHORT STORY in the subject line). In the e-mail message, please include your name, phone number and age if 18 or under.
  • The submissions should include a signed agreement, which can be found on the Little Tokyo Historical Society website. The agreement can be either e-mailed or sent via post.
  • Submissions need to be e-mailed by Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, 12 midnight PST. NO EXCEPTIONS. Immediate family members of judges (first-round or final) are ineligible.

The Little Tokyo Historical Society was created in 2006 by community members, including business owners, activists, residents, researchers and history buffs. LTHS is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, all-volunteer organization dedicated to documenting Japanese American and Japanese history and heritage through sharing discovered archival collections, vintage photos, advocating for historical and cultural monument designations and dedicated naming sites. The society shares its findings through exhibits, publications, video, programs and workshops. The mission of the organizations is to “honor, preserve and share the unique 135-year history and culture of Little Tokyo through: Preserving and maintaining its status as an ethnic heritage neighborhood by researching, discovering, verifying, and documenting historical resource buildings, cultural sites, family histories and personal stories of Little Tokyo and its residents.

Collaborating with people and organizations who want to be an active part of the continuing efforts in LT to promote justice, survival, and quality of life for residents, legacy businesses and institutions, and the JA community.”

In anticipation of the short story contest deadline, Imagine Little Tokyo co-chair and award-winning author Naomi Hirahara and veteran writer and editor Gary Phillips will host Imagine Little Tokyo 2023 Short Story Editing Workshop, a free interactive, virtual seminar with tips on how to publish a short story before submission on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 6 to 7 p.m. PST. Philips edited “South Central Noir (Akashic),” which featured Hirahara’s short stories set in a now-defunct Japanese movie theater on Crenshaw.

For more information about the short story contest and to read the collection of all previous winners’ stories, please visit



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