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Japan Special Collection: Hawaii Japanese Language School Textbook Collection: History

Textbooks used to educate Japanese immigrant children at Japanese language schools in Hawaii.

A Brief History

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The following descriptions are mainly adapted from:

  • Hawai Nihongo Gakko Kyoiku shi (ハワイ日本語学校教育史 History of Japanese Language Schools in Hawaii), edited by Gijo Ozawa, Hawai Kyoikukai, 1972. 
    Call number EAST DU624.7.J3 O93
  • Hawai Nikkei Imin no Kyoiku shi (ハワイ日系移民の教育史), by Koji Okita, 1997. Call number EAST LC3173.H3 O55 1997

For more information on the subject, please see also:

  • America Bukkyo no Tanjo (アメリカ仏教の誕生), by Tomoe Moriya, 2001. Call number EAST BQ8712.9.U62 H39 2001
  • Tosa kara Hawai e (From Tosa to Hawaii 土佐からハワイへ) by Fusa Nakagawa, 2000. Call number EAST BV2765.5.O48 N254 2000

1893 - 1915
1893 The first Japanese language school in Hawaii was established in 1893 at Halawa (Kohala district) on the Big Island by Rev. Juei Kanda (神田重英) and it had approximately 30 students.
1895 Rev. Tamaki Gomi (五味環) started a Japanese language school in Kula, Maui.
1896 The first school on Oahu was established by Rev. Takie Okumura (奥村多喜衛) of Makiki Christian Church.
1897 Rev. Shiro Sogabe (曽我部四郎) established a Japanese school in Honomu, Big island.
1898 Rev. Okumura wanted to create educational opportunities for children of Japanese immigrants and requested the Ministry of Education in Japan (文部省) to help provide Japanese language textbooks. In response to Okumura’s request, the Japanese government sent school textbooks along with physical education equipment in 1898. These textbooks were identical to the ones used in Japan and had been used by many schools.
 Many Japanese elementary schools were built in the islands of Hawaii.

1915 - 1941
After the first Japanese language school in 1893, the number of schools expanded to a total of 134 by 1915. However, there were differing opinions as to whether to educate immigrant children as Japanese or as Americans. As a reflection of the latter view, an integrated educational board, Hawai Kyoikukai (布哇教育会) was formed in 1915. The board members commissioned the creation of new textbooks that would reflect the U.S. and local culture. 
1916 The first textbook was compiled, financially supported by the local Japanese charity group members such as Jukichi Uchida (内田重吉) and Takie Okumura, and the Fushiminomiya Scholarship Society (伏見宮奨学会).

The Japanese language schools faced constant social pressures throughout 1920s. Continuous struggles and conflicted educational philosophy divided the Japanese immigrant community in Hawaii. On July 1, 1921, the Foreign Language School Law was enacted (For additional information please refer to links). Under the law, the Department of Public Instruction, Territory of Hawaii took charge of compiling the Japanese language school textbooks to reflect American views and beliefs. Hawaii’s Foreign Language School Law was contested and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it as unconstitutional in 1927.

1932 Hawai Kyoikukai compiled its own Shushin textbooks. Shushin 修身 literally means “cultivate oneself.” It is often translated to “ethics and morals” in English. In Japan the class of Shushin has been taught at schools.

All the Japanese language schools in Hawaii were shut down in 1941 because of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Most of the school principals and leaders in education were arrested and sent to the internment camps.

1947 In June 1947, the former principle of Honpa Honganji (Hongwanji) Betsuin Fuzoku Palama Gakuen, Futoshi Ohama (大浜太元校長) started a Japanese class for the 8th grade and older. The president of Manoa Nihongo Gakko, Uemon Iguchi (井口宇右衛門校長) started to teach Japanese privately.

1949 The Foreign Language School Law (Gaikokugo Gakko Torishimari-ho 外国語学校取締り法; For additional information please refer to links) was revised in April 1949, and Japanese language schools were officially reopened. The first textbooks after WWII were compiled and published in 1949 and 1950.

1964 In September 1964, “credit test” was administered in Japanese language schools in Hawaii. It was the first step to enable Japanese language school students to transfer the credits as foreign language credits in public schools.

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