Kristen Nemoto Jay
To our loyal Hawai‘i Herald subscribers and supporters: It’s with a heavy heart that I begin this Dialogue with some very sad news. Next month, on Friday, Dec. 1, The Hawai‘i Herald will print its final issue. The Hawaii Hochi, Hawai‘i’s only Japanese-language newspaper, will also come to a close after 111 years of printing.
There are a handful of experiences in my life that have shaped me into who I am today. Working for The Hawai‘i Herald is one of them. Prior to working for The Hawai‘i Herald, I didn’t know too much about my Japanese and Okinawan heritage and culture. I packaged most of what I knew about my ethnicities with memories of attending Buddhist funerals as a child, smelling incense throughout the house when my grandmother lit senkö in her bedroom and eating kinako mochi on New Year’s Eve. I didn’t know too much about my Nisei grandparents’ generation. I didn’t understand why my late grandfather, a 442nd Regimental Combat Team veteran, never spoke about his time during World War II. I didn’t know the significance of his trip back to Bruyères, France, after the war and how he was able to help create a bond sister-city relationship between the tiny town and our tiny island of O‘ahu – one that still holds alliance to this day.
The Hawai‘i Herald saved me, helped me learn how to trust my instincts when I was fresh from quitting my full-time job as a writer for a corporate company to become a soul-searching yogi and freelance writer. The Hawai‘i Herald taught me about my past, that I am a product of many generations of hard work and sacrifice. That my life is so much better, so much richer – more than anything monetary – than what I thought it was or could ever be. When I look back at my time spent working for The Hawai‘i Herald since 2017, first as a freelance writer then staff writer then editor, I think how lucky I am to be the predecessor of the many greats that have made this paper successful throughout the years. Ronald Maruyama, Kenneth H. Toguchi, Arnold T. Hiura, Mark Santoki, Warren Iwasa, Karleen Chinen and Jodie Chiemi Ching – thank you all for your leadership. Okage sama de – I am what I am because of you. Thank you all for your hard work, sacrifice and guidance.
We’re going to continue to publish some pieces that we had in the works prior to the news of our paper’s closure but I’ll be sprinkling in some farewell and tribute stories in our latter issues before we say our final goodbyes on Dec. 1, 2023.
I’ll have more to say in that final issue – as there’s only so much I can write without completely turning into a puddle of teardrops – but what I do want to make sure is clear in this Dialogue is that we are so very grateful to all of you who’ve been a part of our ‘ohana all these years. Whether you’re a first-time purchaser of The Hawai‘i Herald or a novice reader like my MIS veteran Uncle Seichi from Kalihi, we cannot thank you all enough for your letters, words of praise and feedback throughout the years. When I say okage sama de, it is especially to all of you who are reading this right now. It is because of you that us here at The Hawai‘i Herald have been able to do what we love to do everyday since 1980: share stories. Thank you for being a part of and being a contributor to the thousands of stories that continue to inspire, uplift and create a better world.
So rather than us wondering why we’re closing now rather than much later – I’d like to think of this time with gratitude. That we made it this long – 43 years! Thank you all for making that possible. We wouldn’t have been around this long without your support. Mahalo nui.