Kathleen Nekomoto, Hawaii Kendo Federation
November 6, 2010
It has been more than a century ago when Japanese immigrants came to Hawaii under contract to work in the pineapple and sugar cane fields. Concerned about the Americanization of their children, Japanese language schools were started to maintain their cultural identity. It was mandatory for all children of Japanese ancestry to attend these schools and participate in the martial arts including kendo and/or judo. American Japanese children were exposed to the meaning of hard work, patience, loyalty, duty and the honor to continue their cultural responsibilities being of Japanese descent. Population of the Japanese was approximately 43% of Hawaii's population at the height of their immigration.
Practice of kendo began sporadically in Hawaii during the early days of immigration (1885). Some historians believe families of samurai descent started kendo and initially practiced among themselves. By 1930, kendo was part of the Japanese Language school's curriculum and it spread among all Japanese immigrant families. The families were motivated to attend kendo practice after many long arduous hours of work in the fields.
Kendo continued in Hawaii with Hilo Kobukan sometime in 1916, Hilo Hongwanji in 1932 and Maui in 1905. Oahu had approximately 16 dojos in existence. Prior to the WWII, there were approximately 3,500 kenshis. Kendo was discontinued when the attack on Pearl Harbor occurred in 1941.
New beginnings of kendo after WWII began at the Shiseikan Dojo located in Kapahulu, Oahu. This was the making of the Hawaii Kendo Federation. Many years and many experiences followed since then and in 1955, the Hawaii Kendo Federation was officially established. Dr. Noboru Akagi, the 6th president with the most years of contributions organized and began the modernization process of the Hawaii Kendo Federation of today. We have had 10 presidents throughout the 55 years.
Hawaii has been fortunate to have many sensei's who practiced and taught kendo to all the kenshis for many years. They unselfishly contributed their time and their personal finances for the kenshis. With many fond memories of these senseis, all students young and old are the legacy they leave behind. This continues with the next generation and so on.
With total of 300 plus years of kendo among the following senior senseis, I would like to dedicate this All Hawaii Kendo Championships to the following:
Mr. Shigeo Yoshinaga, Kenshikan Kendo Club
Mr. Charles Narimatsu, Hilo Kobukan Kendo Club
Mr. Dick Okaji, Ken Yu Kai Kendo Club
Mr. Atsuo Nishioka, Hilo Hongwanji Kendo Club
Dr. Noboru Akagi, Aiea Taiheiji Kendo Club
Reverend Eijo Ikenaga, Myohoji Kendo Club
With my most sincerest appreciation for their work, teaching and love of their students, we dedicate this tournament to them.
Information referenced from the history written by Dr. N. Akagi 50th Anniversary, Hawaii Kendo Federation