6th Annual Nikkei Kigyo Recognition Banquet
Honoring: Hirano Store & Yamada Furniture
Friday, May 10, 2019—Nani Mau Gardens
5:00 No Host Cocktails/Pupu/Performance by Puna Taiko 6:00 Program & Dinner
Naojiro and Shige Hirano opened Hirano Store in Glenwood on February 22, 1918. In addition to running the store, Naojiro also farmed, operated both a charcoal and a taxi business, served as the Glenwood Postmaster, started his own Japanese language school and served as a consular agent for his fellow Issei, who had to remain Japanese citizens since they were not allowed US citizenship. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Naojiro was taken to an internment camp because of his role as a businessman and involvement with the Japanese community. He returned in 1945 and re-opened his Japanese language school, which remained his passion until his passing in 1962. Son Wataru and his wife Shinae took over the business. In 1969, the Volcano Highway was widened and the store was rebuilt in its current location, next door on the family’s land. Wataru and Shinae ran the new store for the next 15 years with the help of their two daughters. Nephew Eric Inouye stepped in when Wataru and Shinae retired in 1984 and has been running the store ever since.
Yamada Furniture Store, Ltd. was established in August 1929 by Iwakichi Yamada. He worked on the sugar plantations, built stone walls in Ka’u, and worked at the Ikeda Shoyu Factory in addition to being a farmer, ranch hand, and hunter. He bought the former Kim Furniture store on Kilauea Avenue despite having no prior knowledge about the furniture business. After Iwakichi retired, his children took over as the business’ second generation in the 1950s. The original store location was demolished and rebuilt as a two-story building, featuring the very first elevator in downtown Hilo. In addition to furniture, the larger location afforded the store more space to offer a wider variety of products. In 1978 the store moved to its current location on Kinoole Street and continues to be known for having the largest showroom in Hilo with the widest selection of home furnishings. Today, Yamada Furniture is run by members of the third and fourth generations of the family - Robin Yamada, Gene Yamada, Carol Makino, her son Gareth, and Gene’s son Bryce Yamada.