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Early plantation workers began journey in 1868 that changed the islands forever

  • ILLUSTRATION BY MARTHA HERNANDEZ / MHERNANDEZ@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Because they were small in number and dispersed throughout the islands, it’s hard to find obvious traces of the Gannenmono in Hawaii today.

  • BISHOP MUSEUM ARCHIVE

    The 33-day voyage aboard the British sailing ship Scioto to Honolulu from Yokohama Bay began on May, 17, 1868.

  • BISHOP MUSEUM ARCHIVES

    Matsugoro Kuwata was one of the 149 Japanese laborers who chose to remain in Hawaii. He is shown with his Hawaiian wife Meleana and their six children, circa 1899. He worked as a tailor to support his large family and was nicknamed ‘Umi‘umi Matsu (Matsu the Beard).

  • CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARADVERTISER.COM

    A large memorial stone honoring the Gannenmono stands in Makiki Cemetery. “In terms of a lasting legacy within Hawaii, one could only say (the Gannenmono) were the foundation upon which later migration of Japanese was built,” said Gary Y. Okihiro, a prominent scholar, author and professor of international and public affairs at Columbia University in New York.

They were recruited at a salary of $4 per month to support Hawaii’s burgeoning sugar industry, but few among the 149 Japanese who boarded the British sailing ship Scioto in Yokohama Bay on May 17, 1868, had ever worked the land. Read more

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