Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii (JCCH) is a cultural center and history museum in Moiliili, Hawaii that focuses on the Japanese-American experience in Hawaii, especially internment.

Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii Phase 2.jpg
Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, viewed from South Beretania Street
FormationMay 28, 1987
Typecultural center, history museum, nonprofit
LeaderJacce Mikulanec[1]


Plans to build the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii began in 1982, when the Honolulu Japanese Chamber of Commerce began planning to create a space where groups involved with Japanese culture could meet and practice their traditions. The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii opened on May 28, 1987 in Moiliili, a majority-Japanese neighborhood in Honolulu. By 1989, the fundraising committee had raised $7.5 million from the Keidanren and other Japanese organizations to buy land and construct a new building to house the organization. Construction of the first phase of the building was completed in 1991, while the second was completed in 1994.[2]

"Save the Center"Edit

In 2002 the JCCH announced that it would sell off the building and the land it sat on in order to pay off millions of dollars in debt accrued during the construction of the second phase of the building.[2] JCCH members started a committee to "Save the Center", headed by Colbert Matsumoto.[3] They raised $6 million in 47 days, and the lenders forgave the $1.5 million in interest on the loan.[4] The organization reduced the number of board members, changed leadership, and rewrote their mission statement. Once the debt was paid off, they were also able to focus more of their revenue and attention on programs and community outreach.[5]

Finding Honouliuli Internment CampEdit

After receiving an inquiry about the location of the Honouliuli internment camp from KHNL in 1998, volunteers in the JCCH Resource Center rediscovered the site of the camp in 2002.[6] After completing archaeological surveys with the University of Hawaii West Oahu, the JCCH pushed for the camp site to be included in the National Parks system as a National Monument.[7] In 2014 the JCCH began producing short documentaries about internment, such as "The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese-Americans in Hawaii".[8] Honouliuli became a National Monument in February 2015.[9] The JCCH also received a series of grants to study and preserve the site, as well as to educate the public about internment in Hawaii.[10]


Okage Sama De: I am what I am because of youEdit

The shop scene from the JCCH "Okage Sama De" permanent exhibition.

The main exhibit at the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii is called "Okage Sama De: I am what I am because of you". It opened in 1995 and shows the history of Japanese immigration to Hawaii from 1868 to present.[11] The exhibit begins by showcasing values that the issei immigrants brought with them, then moves on to depictions of plantation life, picture brides, World War II, the 442nd and 100th Battalion.[12] There is a theater in the middle of the exhibit showing short documentaries produced by the Center. The exhibit then finishes with a section on post-war life in Hawaii.[13]

It has held several travelling exhibits, such as the Go For Broke National Education Center's "Courage and Compassion: Our Shared Story of the Japanese American WWII Experience".[14]

After the closure of the Ellison Onizuka Space Center in Kona, some of Onizuka's memorabilia that were on display there, including a moon rock, were put on display in the Japanese Cultural Center's exhibit.

Honouliuli Education CenterEdit

The Honouliuli Education Center opened on October 26, 2016. It is an extension of the permanent exhibition "Okage Sama De", and focuses on the experiences of Japanese-American internees at the Honouliuli internment camp. It includes photographs, videos, artifacts used and created by the internees, and a virtual tour of the camp site.[15]


New Years Ohana FestivalEdit

The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii has held the New Years Ohana Festival annually since 1993. The festival includes mochi pounding, performances, games, and a craft fair. Many vendors also serve Japanese food.[16] There are also demonstrations of cultural arts such as tea ceremony, bonsai, and sumo.[17][18]

Sharing the Spirit of Aloha GalaEdit

The Gala is the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii's largest fundraiser. During the Gala the Center recognizes people who have contributed to the Japanese American community and promoted Japanese culture.[19]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Magin, Janis L. (December 3, 2018). "Japanese Cultural Center names new executive director".
  2. ^ a b Ruby, Laura (2005). Mōʻiliʻili : the life of a community (1st ed.). Honolulu, Hawaiʻi: Mōʻiliʻili Community Center. ISBN 978-0967654812. OCLC 76066103.
  3. ^ "Spotlight – Colbert Matsumoto Receives Imperial Decoration | The Hawaii Herald". www.thehawaiiherald.com. January 17, 2018. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  4. ^ Viotti, Vicki (January 1, 2003). "Lenders' agreement saves Japanese Cultural Center | The Honolulu Advertiser | Hawaii's Newspaper". the.honoluluadvertiser.com. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  5. ^ Viotti, Vicki (March 2, 2003). "Japanese center prepares for new era | The Honolulu Advertiser | Hawaii's Newspaper". the.honoluluadvertiser.com. Retrieved 2018-07-11.
  6. ^ Kurahara, Jane; Niiya, Brian; Young, Betsy (2014). Finding Honouliuli: the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai'i and preserving the Hawai'i internment story. Social Process in Hawai'i. 45. pp. 16–42. ISBN 9780824847333.
  7. ^ Jones, Jay. "Hawaii: Documentary tells the story of interned Japanese Americans". latimes.com. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  8. ^ "The Untold Story: Japanese-Americans' WWII Internment in Hawaii". NBC News. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  9. ^ "Once Lost, Internment Camp In Hawaii Now A National Monument". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  10. ^ "Japanese Cultural Center gets $111K grant for internment education". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. 2013-07-11. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  11. ^ "Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai`i Historical Gallery". Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  12. ^ "ハワイ日本文化センターで知る日系人の歴史(1世、子どものために)―「ハワイと日本、人々の歴史」第11回". HuffPost Japan (in Japanese). 2014-02-07. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  13. ^ "The Japanese spirt of aloha: Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii preserves Japanese culture". Nikkei Voice | The Japanese Canadian National Newspaper. 2017-06-29. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  14. ^ "Their Story/My Story/Our Story: Including the Researcher's Experience in Interview Research", Inside Interviewing, SAGE Publications, Inc., 2003, pp. 466–493, doi:10.4135/9781412984492.n23, ISBN 9780761928515
  15. ^ "Honouliuli National Monument — JCCH Education Center Opens to the Public | Pacific Citizen | The National Newspaper of the JACL". www.pacificcitizen.org. Retrieved 2018-06-10.
  16. ^ "Inside Look: 2018 New Year's 'Ohana Festival". HONOLULU Family. 2018-01-11. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  17. ^ Nabarro, Moanike'ala. "Annual Japanese festival perpetuates culture in Mo'ili'ili". Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  18. ^ Maduli, McKenna (2018-01-10). "25th annual New Year's Ohana Festival set for this Sunday". KHON. Retrieved 2018-08-10.
  19. ^ "Community Focus – JCCH Honors Six at "Sharing the Spirit of Aloha" Gala | The Hawaii Herald". www.thehawaiiherald.com. Retrieved 2018-08-10.

External linksEdit