Manoa Japanese Language School (MJLS) is a school dedicated to the advancement of the Japanese language, culture, and arts for all ages and all abilities. Students range from kindergarten through adulthood. Manoa Japanese Language School provides curricula and programs that encourage students to better understand the importance of the Japanese language and culture while appreciating its beauty and usefulness. Manoa Japanese Language School is located in the heart of beautiful Manoa Valley on East Manoa Road. We are the oldest language school and have educated thousands of students since 1910.
It was the 25th anniversary of the Japanese immigration to Hawaii. The Territory of Hawaii was only 10 years old; William Howard Taft was President, Walter Frear, Governor, J.J. Fern, Mayor, and Prince Jonah Kuhio Kalanianaole was the Delegate to Congress. Mid-Pacific Institute had just been completed, the University of Hawaii was three years old, and McKinley High School was only two years old. The total population of Hawaii was about 190,000. The date was November 3, 1910, and it marked the opening of the Manoa Japanese Language School.
The first principal was Haruie Miwa and the school consisted of only 12 students. The Education Committee, headed by Fred Kinzaburo Makino, was made up of 14 members. One of the members and founding fathers was Kokichi Okimura, who became the 4th and 7th Education Committee Chairman, and was active in school affairs until he passed away in 1962. His son, Kenji Okimura, served the school in many ways since that time between the two classroom buildings.
The school property was purchased from the Liliuokalani Estate in March 1929. That year, a pine tree was planted on the school grounds by Rizo Sakida, who propagated it from seeds brought from Japan six years earlier. That tree still stands on the campus between the two classroom buildings.
In April of 1939, a celebration was held to commemorate the retirement of the school mortgage. Two years later in 1941, the school was forced to close because of World War II. Kokichi Okimura, Shuichi Kamemoto, Junichi Yamamoto, Toyokazu Okumura, and Saburo Okinaga were appointed trustees. These five men were under constant surveillance by authorities who tried to coerce them into surrendering title to the property. Despite constant pressure, the five men held out. The property, however, was leased ot the Office of Civilian Defense and the Fire Department until the end of the war in 1945. In June 1946, the trustees incorporated the Manoa Community Association and the title to the land was transferred to it. Many of the Japanese language schools lost their land during World War II and we owe the five trustees much for their effort in preserving the land for the school.
In May 1948, the school reopened with 250 students. Uemon Inokuchi was the principal and Shuichi Kamemoto was head of the Education Committee. Plans were made to build new classrooms. In February of 1955, the school chose to buy an old Manoa School Classroom building for $1,000 at a public auction. It was relocated to its present site fronting East Manoa Road for $6,000. In September of that same year, the property behind the school including an existing house was purchased for the principal’s use.
Hawaii became part of the United States in November 1959, and the Manoa Japanese Language School celebrated its 50th anniversary in 1960. The school grew and prospered over the years and once again, plans were made for a new building. On June 24, 1962, a ground breaking ceremony was held and the old pine tree was retained as a symbol of the old school.
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