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Okinawan Roots: Coming to Hawaii

Excerpt from UCHINANCHU: A History of Okinawans in Hawaii  by Yukiku Kimura
(copyright 1981, used by permission)

Coming to Hawaii

By 1899, Kyuzo Toyama began to see Hawaii as a better prospect for future emigration of the Okinawans than Formosa. At that time Hawaii was still hardly known to them in spite of the fact that… emigration from Japan to Hawaii from the southwestern prefectures of Japan had been in progress for fifteen years. As a result of Toyama’s tireless, persistent promotional work, 200 young men of various occupational backgrounds from various villages and counties applied. Finally, thirty men, ranging in age from 21 to 35 years, were accepted to become the first contract labor immigrants from Okinawa. For incidental expense, Toyama managed to borrow 30 yen for each of them in spite of the great reluctance on the part of the money lenders who regarded emigration to Hawaii as a risky venture.

The thirty men sailed from Naha, Okinawa, aboard the S.S. Satsuma Maru on December 5, 1899. They arrived at Osaka and proceeded to Yokohama by train, arriving on December 15. They sailed from Yokohama on December 30 on the British steamer S.S. City of China. They arrived at Honolulu on January 8, 1900. Twenty six men passed they physical examination and were allowed to enter on January 16.