Sharing Memories Of ‘Showa’ Japanese School In Wahiawa

Editor’s note: Patricia S. Sakata, 86, submitted this recollection of her Japanese school in Wahiawa prior to World War II. Its location on Kuahiwi Avenue has been taken over by the nonprofit, Arc in Hawaii. “If you can have my information published, the surviving Niseis will be happy,” she wrote.

I always lived in Wahiawa on Kuahiwi, where my next-door neighbor was “Showa.”

Before WWII, this school was active. Mrs. Haru Tanaka was our principal and she was strict, very strict. Monday through Friday, we learned to read and write Japanese, and also about the culture. On Saturdays, women attended classes in sewing, flower arrangements, proper manners, etc. Men took judo, kendo, baseball, etc. Many times the whole school would run to Haleiwa or up to Wahiawa Heights. If you could not accept attending these functions, you could not attend this school.

Leilehua High School was on Wheeler Army Airfield (then Wheeler Field). We walked from Leilehua every day, rain or shine, to Showa.

New Year’s Day we wore kimonos and went to Mrs. Tanaka’s house to say Happy New Year and thank you for last year. We also had kabuki performed by high school students. Mr. Yojo was the instructor. We would reserve our seats on the floor at the Wahiawa Theater.

When WWII started, our principal was taken away, and we never saw her until after the war ended. When she came back to Wahiawa, she had no place to go. She was invited to several homes and finally rented a home in Wahiawa. She continued teaching flower arrangements, cooking and sewing to survive.

I’m sure many Showa students will remember the many memorable places in their lives at our school. Our Isei parents worked hard to send their children to Showa, and we Nisei should be thankful for all the memories.

(Showa can mean “enlightened peace” but also refers to the reigning years of emperor Hirohito.)