The sansei, or third-generation Japanese-American, brings a lifetime of advocacy to her role here, after a successful career in
The Moiliili-based nonprofit she leads shares heritage and culture through educational outreach and numerous other activities, including spearheading the
effort to preserve sites such as the
Honouliuli Internment Camp, the World War II detention facility in Leeward Oahu that was nearly lost to history.
Hayashino has been a tireless advocate for Japanese-Americans for decades, specifically with the
Before accepting the leadership post at JCCH in 2012, Hayashino worked for 18 years in higher education, first at
A mother and grandmother, Hayashino is married to banker
Question: Could we start with how the JCCH helped rediscover Honouliuli? ...
Answer: The search for Honouliuli was prompted in 1998 by a telephone call to the JCCH from a local television station asking about
Other than knowing the general vicinity of Honouliuli being in
Q: And up until that time it had essentially been forgotten?
A: ... Many people weren't even aware that
Q: I've heard you describe the internments in
A: Yes, these were people who were leaders in the Japanese community. These were your religious leaders, your Japanese-language teachers, your prominent businessmen. ... It left the Japanese-American community without its leaders, its voice.
Q: Can you tell me a little bit about the physical site?
A: Honouliuli is located in a deep gulch and it's hidden so the outside world doesn't know that the internment camp exists. There's some natural barriers so it's very difficult to escape. So once you're imprisoned in Honouliuli, you are confined, you are out of sight, you are forgotten. ... The government built a facility that was not only large enough to hold the Japanese-American internees, but also prisoners of war.
Q: People not from
A: Yes. ...
Q: How many Japanese-Americans were interned in
A: Today we look at around 2,300.
Q: Not continuously, but at some point during the war?
A: Yes. That's correct.
Q: And once the war was over, ... what was the re-entry like?
A: There is a lot missing about the transition back into regular life. We've worked on documenting the internment experience and also its aftermath. That is ongoing with JCCH -- collecting oral histories, artifacts, records. Obviously, every family's story is unique.
Q: And there also are aspects that are universal? You mentioned your own family's experience ...
A: Yes, my entire family, my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, everyone, was interned on the mainland. My aunt was born in the internment camp. So I grew up with that history. I know from my own family's experience how difficult it was to re-enter society and to re-establish yourself. And I think it was no different here. ... On the
Here's just one example:
Q: ... Lives so unfairly interrupted. It's hard to fathom. As the JCCH undertook this research, collecting oral histories, talking to internees and their families, what was the level of bitterness like?
A: Let me answer that two ways, first personally, because I think that illustrates the broader reaction refecting our deep cultural values.
Now, my mother's family: My mother was a young girl, they were agricultural workers, they didn't know what was going to happen to them. There were five children. My grandfather gathered them together, dressed them up, took a family picture and gave one to each child so that they could find each other if they were ever separated.
Q: How heartbreaking.
A: After the war, they left the camps and returned to
A: And that's not unusual, you hear it over and over again -- they knew what had happened was wrong and unjust, but they were not bitter.
Q: But how?
A: It's our Japanese cultural values. Shikataganai: acceptance of fate -- it can't be helped. It's part of the way our issei leaders faced hardship. You really do try to make the best of it. ... It's also the value of gaman (acceptance of fate with dignity), gambare (perseverance) and other beliefs that helped Japanese-Americans cope and survive their internment and face the challenges of resettling and rebuilding their lives after their release. The Japanese values that guided the internees are the similar values demonstrated by the nisei veterans of the 442nd, 100th and MIS (
Q: I guess that's all part of the modern lesson?
A: Yes. That's why we want to preserve Honouliuli. It's not just the site. It's the stories of these people ... and so it never happens again. ... No group of people should be demonized. ... We have, I would hope, a shared sense of responsibility to uphold people's civil liberties and constitutional rights.
Q: You said JCCH is still collecting oral histories?
A: Yes. We have many recorded. And we have our documentary film, "The Untold Story: Internment of Japanese Americans in
Q: So even though many of the internees have passed away, their children and grandchildren can help?
A: Yes, definitely. Families today are sharing stories, and also personal possessions, artwork and things that their grandfathers or fathers made in camp. ... Rings made out of toothbrushes, or bird carvings made out of scrap wood. ... Recently, the family of
Q: These could be displayed at the monument. Where are we in terms of Honouliuli being designated as a national monument or historic site?
Q: So you'll continue to involve the community as the process moves along?
A: Yes. ... We ask everyone to help us keep this history alive. ... People are quite surprised when they hear about
Q: How so?
A: People all over saw it. "Hawaii Five-0" fans in
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