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Sea of Opportunity

Sea of Opportunity: The Japanese Pioneers of the Fishing Industry in Hawai`i

Manako Ogawa
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 272
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  • Book Info
    Sea of Opportunity
    Book Description:

    Sea of Opportunity: The Japanese Pioneers of the Fishing Industry in Hawai'iis part history and part ethnography of Japanese fisheries in Hawai'i from the late nineteenth century to present. When Japanese fishermen arrived in Hawai'i from coastal communities in Japan, mainly Hiroshima, Yamaguchi, and Wakayama, they brought fishing techniques developed in their homeland to the Hawaiian archipelago and adapted them to the new environment. Within a short period of time, they expanded the local fisheries into one of the pillars of the island economy. Unlike most of the previous studies on Japanese immigrants to Hawai'i with focus on sugarcane plantations,Sea of Opportunityforegrounds the vibrant community of Japanese fishermen and their turbulent history.

    Original in its conception and research, the book begins with the early accomplishments of Japanese fishermen who advanced into foreign waters and situates their activities in the contexts of both Japan and Hawai'i. Skillfully using sources in various languages, the author complicates the history of Japanese immigration to Hawai'i by adding an obvious yet forgotten transoceanic agent-fishermen.

    Instead of challenging the notion of land-based history of the Japanese immigrants, Ogawa tactfully shifts the focus by showing us that one of the earliest Japanese communities was made up of fishermen, whose pre-World War II success was a direct result of the growing plantation communities. She argues that their mobility enabled fishermen to retain homes on different shores much more easily than their farmer counterparts. The fateful event of the December 7, 1941, however, affected both groups just the same. The postwar efforts to reconstruct Hawai'i's fishing industry included transformation of its ethnic environment from Japanese domination into one shared among various ethnic groups, both old and new. The arrival of Okinawan fishermen was critical in this development and reveals a complex cultural and political relationship between Hawai'i, Okinawa, and Japan. Personal interviews conducted by Ogawa, a Japanese native, give these fishermen a chance to recount their often difficult transoceanic stories in their own language. Their unflappable entrepreneurship and ability to survive in different waters and lands parallel the experiences of many immigrants to Hawai'i.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-5485-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Note on Names
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. Introduction
    (pp. 1-10)

    A common image of Japan is that the sea has isolated and separated it from the rest of the world. Those who have historically made a living by cultivating the land have often viewed the sea surrounding Japan as nothing more than an unfathomable mass with little direct relevance to their everyday lives. Indeed, many people believe that Japan has always been an agricultural country, characterized primarily by its rice production and consumption. However, the waters surrounding this island nation have also significantly contributed to shaping Japanese culture. Abundant seafood harvested from the ocean has always enriched the diet of...

  7. 1 Passage to Hawai‘i: The Development of a Fishing Culture in Japan since Ancient Times
    (pp. 11-32)

    Kishū, what is now Wakayama and the southernmost part of Mie prefectures, was a bow-shaped region on the southern end of Honshu Island. Its long coastline directly facing the Pacific Ocean has long had abundant fish brought by the Kuroshio Black Current, coming from the Philippines and Indonesia in the summer. The abundance of maritime resources has attracted fishermen, calledkaifu, since ancient times.Kaifu, under the leadership of the professional fishermen’s clan, called Azumi-no-muraji, had a special duty to provide marine products to the imperial court. Their outstanding fishing activities earned widespread fame for Kishū as a region possessing...

  8. 2 Japanese Fishermen Enter Hawaiian Waters: The Formative Years of Commercial Fishing in Hawai‘i and the Rise of the Japanese, from 1899 to the Early 1920s
    (pp. 33-61)

    When Gorokichi Nakasuji arrived in Honolulu Harbor in December 1899, Honolulu was in great turmoil following an outbreak of the plague and its aftermath. A fire set to burn a small, contaminated section of Chinatown soon went out of control and wiped out the whole town. Thousands of people, including many Japanese, were left homeless. The tragic fire delayed the process of immigration and Nakasuji was detained for three weeks. Once he was released from the immigration office, a scarcity of residences due to the great fire forced him to move from place to place, without enough time to start...

  9. 3 The Heyday of the Japanese Fishing Industry in Hawai‘i
    (pp. 62-91)

    The growth of Japanese fishing operations coincided with the expansion of fishing-related industries, such as the sales of fishing gear, bait, fuel, water, and food for crews. In those days, Japanese fishing gear merchants imported hooks, longlines, bamboo poles, and other maritime hardware from their hometowns in Japan, as well as from the continental United States, and modified them to fit the fishing style of Hawai‘i.¹ Ice was indispensable for the preservation of perishable aquatic products in Hawai‘i’s warm temperatures, and the Japanese had started an ice-making business in order to supply ice to fishing boats, auction houses, and fish...

  10. 4 Surviving the Dark Days
    (pp. 92-115)

    Japanese fishermen advanced into Hawaiian waters predominantly by their own will and efforts. Unlike the Japanese entrance into the seascapes around Korea, Taiwan, and other places, under the umbrella of the expanding Japanese empire, which gave fishermen various forms of official protection and support, their equivalents in Hawai‘i could expect no direct pecuniary or material assistance from their home government. Instead, they used hometown ties and other forms of mutual aid to expand their fishing enterprises, as discussed previously.

    Despite their autonomy from Japanese imperial control, the remarkable increase in the number of Japanese nationals at sea and their monopoly...

  11. 5 The Reconstruction and Revitalization of Fisheries after World War II
    (pp. 116-128)

    This was the moment when Donald Kida greeted his father, Katsukichi, who had come back to Hawai‘i from an internment camp. At the time of the Pearl Harbor attack, Donald was two years old. He reached school age without a memory of his father’s face; instead, the image of a father in school textbooks, a Caucasian white-collar man in a business suit, substituted for his real one. Katsukichi, the dark and tired-looking man standing in front of him at Pier 35, completely betrayed his preconception. “My father was a stranger to me,” he said. This initial impression at the moment...

  12. 6 Okinawa and Hawai‘i
    (pp. 129-152)

    The Okinawa archipelago, stretching about eight hundred miles in an arc from the south of Kyushu, a southern island of Japan, to Taiwan, is an integral, albeit unique part of Japan with distinctive historical and cultural characteristics. When Okinawa, the principal island of the Ryukyus, was unified by Shō Hashi in 1422, Shō and the successive rulers of the Ryukyu Kingdom (the First Sh o Dynasty, 1422– 1469, and the Second Sh o Dynasty, 1470–1879) paid tribute to the emperors of China and promoted foreign trade via ships to China, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asian countries by fully taking...

  13. Epilogue
    (pp. 153-166)

    On the deck of his boat,Lisa I, at anchor in ‘Ilikai Yacht Harbor in Honolulu, Hiroshi Nakashima honestly expressed his feelings. Since he came to Hawai‘i in February 1962 as a member of the second group of Okinawan fishing trainees, at age twenty-seven, he has spent most of his days in Hawaiian waters. Unlike many of his former Okinawan fishermen colleagues, who returned home or took up land jobs, Nakashima remained onboard and kept fishing, while observing significant changes in the structure and demography of Hawai‘i’s commercial fishing since the 1970s.

    One of the most noticeable changes in the...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 167-188)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 189-198)
  16. Index
    (pp. 199-206)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 207-211)