About Us


Brief History

1. First Immigrants

    The first Japanese settlers in Hawaii were 153 immigrants (known as Gannen mono, or Eighteen Sixty-Eighters, named after the first year of the Meiji Era, 1868) who arrived on June 20, 1868. In 1875, Mr. J.B. Dickson was appointed Honorary Consul of Japan to look after the affairs of Japanese citizens in the Kingdom of Hawaii.

     Hawaiian King David Kalakaua proceeded to travel to Japan in 1881 to visit the Meiji Emperor and to invite Japan to send settlers to work on Hawaii's agricultural plantations.

     The Kanyaku imin, or contract laborer immigrants, arrived on February 8, 1885, four years after King Kalakaua's visit to Japan. They were accompanied by Consul Jiro Nakamura, the first Japanese Consul in Hawaii, and two other Japanese government officials. They were the first diplomatic representatives from any nation other than the United States to be posted to the kingdom of Hawaii.

2. Consular Office Established

     The first Japanese mission in 1885, consisting of Consul Nakamura and two other officials without a designated Consul General, was formally called the Consular Office of Japan. It rented office space in the original Royal Hawaiian Hotel, which was located in downtown Honolulu at that time (this location is presently occupied by the Hawaii State Art Museum).

3. First Consul General Arrives

     The Consular Office was promoted to the level of Consulate General on November 17, 1885. The first Consul General, Mr. Taro Ando, who had the rank of ambassador, arrived in Honolulu on February 14, 1886, and established the original Consulate General of Japan at the corner of Nuuanu and Kuakini. The land was purchased from Judge M.A. Austin and included a house which served as both the official residence and the business office.

     It is worthy to note that this Consulate General office building existed throughout the periods of the Kingdom of Hawaii from 1886 to 1893, the provisional Republic of Hawaii from 1893 to 1898 and the U.S. Territory of Hawaii from 1898 to 1908.
The original Consulate General of Japan (1886-1908)
[Courtesy of Hawaii Hochi, Ltd.]
Consul General and Mrs. Taro Ando stand on the porch of the official consular residence.
[Courtesy of Hawaii Hochi, Ltd.] 
4. Beretania / Fort Office

      In 1908, the Consulate General of Japan purchased a three-story stone office building at the corner of Beretania and Fort. This building served as the Consulate General of Japan while the Official Residence of the Consul General of Japan remained at the Nuuanu and Kuakini property.

     This building was sold in 1913, but it remains standing today, containing classrooms for Hawaii Pacific University.
Consulate General of Japan (1908-1913)
[Courtesy of Hawaii Hochi, Ltd.]
5. Expansion of the Consulate General Grounds

      In 1913, the Consulate General of Japan purchased a neighboring property from Mrs. Judd. This expanded the grounds of the Consulate to the 13,400 sq. meter size that it remains to this day, and a new residence and new offices were completed and occupied at the newly expanded Nuuanu Avenue and Kuakini Street site. These buildings were in continuous use for more than four decades.
The former Japanese Consulate Building on Nuuanu Street.
[Courtesy of Hawaii Hochi, Ltd.]
The former official residence of the Consul General of Japan on Nuuanu Street.
[Courtesy of Hawaii Hochi, Ltd.] 

6. The War Years

     During the second world war, the Japanese Consulate staff was placed under house arrest, and the Consulate General of Japan served as the home of the Consul General, the consular staff, and the local staff. They were only allowed to leave the grounds one person at a time to obtain food and medicine.

     Swedish Vice Consul Gustaf Olsen took over the former Japanese Consulate and assumed its duties on March 1942, in order to oversee the welfare of Japanese nationals, many of whom belonged to families which lost their main wage-earner to internment camps on the mainland.

7. After the War

     When the San Francisco Peace Treaty, which was signed on September 8, 1951, took effect on April 28, 1952, the Consulate General of Japan was officially reestablished. In September 1956, the new office building was completed and it is currently being used after renovation and extension. In 1960, the Official Residence was completed, retaining as part of its design the sixteen-petal gold chrysanthemum flower crest (mon) of the Imperial Family over the door, just as it was placed over the entry of the prior Official Residence. This Official Residence is still currently in use.

     Since the economic boom of the sixties and seventies, the Consulate has had to focus on the ever increasing tourist traffic and business activities of its citizens. The present Official Residence and Consulate General of Japan frequently hosts distinguished guests from Japan, Hawaii, and all around the world. Japanese prime ministers who have officially visited the Consulate General include Shigeru Yoshida, Takeo Fukuda, and Zenko Suzuki.

     Most notably, the late Emperor Showa and the Empress visited Hawaii during an official visit to the United States. The native Hawaiian kukui tree (1), which they planted to commemorate their visit on October 11, 1975, continues to fluorish.

     There are also two living links to the present Emperor and Empress of Japan on the grounds of the Consulate General.  On September 23, 1960, the then Crown Prince Akihito and Crown Princess Michiko visited the Consulate General and planted a monkeypod tree (2) to commemorate the centennial anniversary of the U.S.-Japan Friendship Treaty. On June 24, 1994, Their Majesties the Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visited the Consulate General and planted a rainbow shower tree in the garden behind the Official Residence to commemorate their official visit to the United States.
(1) Kukui Tree (2) Monkeypod Tree