As the second to the last issue of The Hawai‘i Herald, “grateful” is a theme that might be furthest from our mind, but grateful we are. After the news broke that the Herald would print its last issue on Friday, Dec. 1, we received an outpouring of support — people who shared in our disappointment to see a paper with such a long history in Hawai‘i fade into the sunset. Thank you to those who emailed, called, posted messages on social media. Words cannot express how much we appreciate your kind words and for the reminder that a supportive community is what kept the Herald going for as long as it did.
There were days I couldn’t believe I was lucky enough to do this for a living — the opportunity to help bridge the gap between generations, to help keep important memories alive, to celebrate successes, wins, mourn losses. As each issue came together, our editor, Kristen Nemoto Jay, compiled ideas and stories written by our contributors and columnists that shared important histories, revealed insights to a community I may not have known, with words that inspired hope or often moved me to tears.
Most importantly, working at the Herald taught me that it’s never too late to reconnect with your culture, to learn from those who came before us as well as those who we are living with now. What I will miss most is the opportunity to read about ordinary people amongst us living extraordinary lives. The person playing taiko at your local hongwanji bon dance, the cameraman at your community event with the big smile, the baseball player at your neighborhood park — they are all filled with personal histories and hidden stories that deserve to be told. Being a part of the Herald ignited a pride for having Japanese heritage, a pride I didn’t think I had deserved.
Growing up, I never felt quite Japanese enough — I couldn’t speak Japanese, didn’t participate in enough cultural events, most people could barely tell I was Japanese at all. I called myself a “bad Japanese” and thought that was the end of it.
When I began working at the Herald, those fears haunted me still, especially to come in after the intelligent Japanese/Okinawan women before me. But in my short time at The Hawai‘i Herald, I read stories about hapa Japanese people, local Japanese people, people from Japan who moved to Hawai‘i, people from Hawai‘i who moved to Japan or Okinawa, and I quickly realized that “being Japanese” comes in many different forms — whether you’re fully bilingual, or hapa or Japanese/Okinawan at heart — or, like me — a half Japanese/half Okinawan Yonsei with a toddler-sized Japanese vocabulary and fading memories of my Nisei grandparents. I am imperfectly Japanese, but Japanese, nevertheless.
Beyond reconnecting with my Japanese heritage, I’m proud of the time I was able to spend at the Herald, and I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to help tell your stories.
In this issue, we continue to share stories where we are grateful for the community coming together. Our cover story features Chazz Moleta and the Central Maui Boxing Club, a boxing facility who pulled together with the help of staff, friends, neighbors and volunteers to help those affected by the Maui wildfires receive donations. Former Hawai‘i Herald editor Karleen Chinen shares the story of different groups and organizations working together to bring the Ryūkyū Stone to the Washington Monument. Byrnes Yamashita shares the work of the Nisei Veterans Legacy, an organization dedicated to keeping the Nisei soldiers of World War II stories’ alive for future generations. Kokugakuin University graduate student Maho Yajima shares her takeaways from her research trip to Hawai‘i, where she interviewed members of the Nikkei community.
We are so grateful for The Hawai‘i Herald community. Whether you’re a longtime or new subscriber, an occasional reader, an Instagram or Facebook follower, thank you for your support and words of encouragement. Thank you for being here.