A Mystery Solved

This photo was in my great grandmother’s album for decades with no story of who he was. Today he has a name, Tsuyoshi Kobata RADM.

Thanks to COVID hitting my family, we all have been recovering at home. I decided to use the time to sort through old photos and family documents.

My cousins had made copies of one of the my great grandmother’s albums and had given it to my Aunt Hatsumi to jot down who those people were.

One photo in particular caught my eye because it was definitely an officer in the Japanese Imperial Navy. There was no name just a note stating he was in active duty.

I set out to find out who this person was and found a group who studied naval history in Japan. Based on several notes from my great aunt’s journals, I pieced together some clues and sure enough, those experts found his record.

Thanks to some Japanese Imperial Navy scholars, my relative has a name: Tsuyoshi Kobata

Here’s his entire Imperial Japanese Navy career:

KOBATA Tsuyoshi 木幡行
Naval Academy 37 (113 of 179)
Naval College 20
BORN – 02 June 1887, in Fukushima Prefecture
MID – 19 November 1909
SOYA Crewmember – 19 November 1909 – 16 July 1910
MIKASA Crewmember – 16 July 1910 – 01 December 1910
KASUGA Crewmember – 01 December 1910 – 22 May 1911
ENS – 27 February 1911
TSUGARU Crewmember – 22 May 1911 – 24 April 1912
Gunnery School Basic Course – 24 April 1912 – 09 August 1912
Torpedo School Basic Course – 09 August 1912 – 20 December 1912
LTJG – 01 December 1912
Member of 2nd Torpedo Boat Group – 20 December 1912 – 01 December 1913
KURAMA Crewmember – 01 December 1913 – 17 March 1915
KUSUNOKI Crewmember – 17 March 1915 – 08 September 1915
AZUMA Crewmember – 08 September 1915 – 01 December 1916
LT – 01 December 1916
Naval College Basic Course – 01 December 1916 – 01 May 1917
Torpedo School Advanced Course – 01 May 1917 – 01 December 1917
Torpedo Boat Commanding Officer, 2nd Torpedo Boat Group – 01 December 1917 – 10 September 1918
Torpedo School Instructor – 01 December 1917 – 10 September 1918
2nd Special Task Fleet Assistant Staff Officer – 10 September 1918 – 01 November 1918
KASHI Crewmember – 01 November 1918 – 01 June 1920
AKEBONO Commanding Officer – 01 June 1920 – 01 December 1920
Naval College Advanced Course – 01 December 1920 – 01 December 1922
LCDR – 01 December 1922
NIRE Commanding Officer – 01 December 1922 – 01 May 1923
ASAMA Division Officer – 01 May 1923 – 01 May 1924
Naval Academy Instructor / Trainer – 01 May 1924 – 01 December 1925
ISE Torpedo Officer – 01 December 1925 – 01 December 1926
CDR – 01 December 1926
1st Fleet / Combined Fleet Staff Officer – 01 December 1926 – 10 December 1928
USUGUMO Commanding Officer – 10 December 1928 – 15 November 1929
Attached to Naval General Staff & Navy Department – 15 November 1929 – 30 November 1929
Navy Department Education Bureau 2nd & 1st Section Staff Officer – 30 November 1929 – 14 November 1931
ComDesDiv 22 – 14 November 1931 – 15 November 1933
CAPT – 01 December 1931
KINU Commanding Officer – 15 November 1933 – 01 November 1934
Mako Guard District Chief-of-Staff – 01 November 1934 – 01 December 1936
Yokosuka Defense Unit Commanding Officer – 01 December 1936 – 01 December 1937
RADM – 01 December 1937
Attached to Naval General Staff – 01 December 1937 – 15 December 1937
Awaiting Orders – 15 December 1937 – 21 December 1937
Reserve Status – 21 December 1937 – 10 November 1943
Job Assistant with China Area Fleet – 10 November 1943 – 15 August 1945
DIED – 10 August 1977 (aged 90)


I am just amazed at the mysteries being solved after decades of clouds about my family. I don’t want these old photos to have no story and if I can put a name and a face to it, it can tell a very neat story to the next generation.

This needs confirmation however this is Tsuyoshi sitting beside his son, Kiyoyuki, on his wedding day.

My Roots From Hiroshima

Hatsuzo Fukumoto born January 10, 1855 died November 25, 1930. Sitting with his grandchildren on right Sonoye, Kiyoko on lap, Shigemitsu, then Hatsumi in Pahoa, Hawaii.

My great grandparents immigrated from Hiroshima Japan at the turn of the century. Great grandmother was Yuku Kobata who was a picture bride married in 1914 to 1917 to Yotaro Ishimoto. She arrived on the Big Island on February 2, 1915. She was “deserted” according to Kalapana court records by her husband and granted a divorce on March 20, 1917.

Yuku Fukumoto born on March 15, 1894 and died on April 5, 1989. Pictured with my grandmother, Sumie, and her kid brother, Akiharu.

Yuku then married my great grandfather Juichi Fukumoto on June 30, 1917, shortly after her divorce. Juichi arrived in Hawaii in 1987 with his parents from Aki-gun Hiroshima, Hatsuzo (his mother’s maiden name was Fukunaga) and Hina (maiden name was Tanaka). Yuku’s parents were Seijiro Ansei Kobata born on June 6, 1857 and died on January 6, 1945 and her mother was Tamayo born on March 21, 1866 and died on June 6, 1940. They were still in Japan and did not move to Hawaii with her as I have no records indicating they left Hiroshima.

1920 map of Pahoa town with my great grandparents store, Fukumoto Store. It burned down after my great grandfather had forgotten a long on the fire while preparing tofu. That fire took place on November 8, 1953.
Fukumoto Store front with great grandparents, Yuku and Hina, along with Hatsumi, Aki, and Sonoye.

After the fire, the Fukumoto family relocated to Oahu. Sonoye enrolled at UH Manoa and received a Bachelors degree in 1954 then went to Temple University to get her Master’s Degree in Education. She was a pioneer of her time and taught 30 years for the Department of Education.

Front from left to right is Akiharu and Sumie and back row is Sonoye, Shige, Hatsumi 1937
Akiharu and Shige
Akiharu and Sumie
The Juichi and Yuku Fukumoto family 1974
Sonoye with her father, Juichi
Yuku and Sumie at my Aunty Pam’s wedding 1976
Yuku with her great grandchildren, Nicole, Cori, Wendi, me, Matthew, Mike, and Deanna
1940’s census record
Yuku Fukumoto 1930
Yuku’s citizenship ceremony in 1954. Juichi never became a citizen of the U.S.
Pahoa classmates of Hatsumi May 1, 1933
Kiyoko, the sibling who died at 10 years old in Shriner’s Hospital of polio
Shige taken at Chiyashi
Hina Fukumoto, died on 11/20/1951. Father was Hosogoro Kinoshita. Possibly could be of Yuku but we are unsure.
Kiyoko and Sonoye
Hina’s death certificate
Kiyoko Fukumoto
Hatsuzo’s death certificate naming his father Yuhachi Fukumoto and mother as Hina Kinoshita, which I am sure is an error on the record.

The Story of the Kamiya Family

Here is the story of my family as written by my dad, Kenneth Kamiya.

The story for the Kamiya family in Hawaii begins with the immigration of my grandfather, Kama Kamiya, in 1911 to work for Honokaa Sugar Company in Hawaii. He was 23 years old. In 1913 grandmother, Manchi, arrived in Hawaii and the family settled in Kukuihaile, Hawail.

Tomonobu Kamiya as a young boy in Okinawa

During this period my father, Tomonobu, was too young to immigrate to Hawaii and he remained in Okinawa to be raised by an aunt until 1924 at which time he joined his parents in Hawaii at the age of 17.

The aunt who raised my grandfather

As with other immigrant families who found plantation work to be very demanding, the family moved to Oahu in 1925 to begin working in the dairy business. Some of the original dairies were located in the present day Waikiki area, but as development progressed in Honolulu dairies were established on the windward side of Oahu and the family followed. It is a known fact that because of all the dairy farms in Kaneohe, day or night you knew you were entering Kaneohe because it had that distinct dairy odor of abundant cow manure.

The early days of the dairy in Kaneohe

My father continued to work with dairies owned by prominent Portuguese dairymen such as Campos, Souza, and Freitas. His brothers, Tom, Don, and Larry, also continued to work in the dairy business and eventually established the Kamiya Dairy which was located near the present day Halekou Street and across the present day Hawaiian Memorial Park Cemetery. This dairy eventually moved to Maili, Oahu, and became one of the largest dairy in Hawaii.

Mom and dad’s marriage was a traditional “arranged” marriage and this occurred in 1935, about the time by older brother, Paul, was born. In 1941 my parents eventually settled on a farm site in Kaneohe where the Keaahala subdivision is now located. Here, my parents raised various crops including taro, hogs, cows, bananas, papaya, and vegetables. I was born at this time and my sister, Ruth, and brother, Lawrence, were born in 1946 and 1947 respectively. It should be noted that Mr. T. lida generously helped my parents build their first home at this site.

Banana fields

Although the family was poor we had a great time living on a farm. Kaneohe was a small town and neighbors and friends were always willing to lend a hand for whatever needed to be done. My recollection of Kaneohe was that it represented a true community.

People took care of each other and crime was almost nonexistent. An indication of this fact was houses and cars were never locked. Fishermen shared their catch, farmers shared their produce, and tradesmen helped put things together. Conversations in gatherings included storytelling, history, and the sharing of good happenings. Of course, the bad things were also covered.

Because the location of our farm was mauka of Kaneohe stream and because stream flows during heavy rains prevented bridge building the stream was constantly graded to allow crossing and access to our house. As children, it was always a thrill riding a car or truck at this crossing. It was more thrilling if you had to walk home and cross on a 12X12 beam. Night time foot crossing was all the more thrilling. But as children, flooding in Kaneohe was always welcome because it gave us a valid excuse to stay home from school and play.

Growing up in Kaneohe elicits fond carefree and fun memories. In my formative years Kaneohe was “country” with lots of open spaces, a small tidy town that served the needs of the community and with abundant opportunities for adventurous activities that would test the creativity of country kids with limited funds. There were open pastures with lots of guava trees and as we explored we all knew which trees were “sweet guava” and which trees were good for mom to make guava jelly.

There were many streams and these streams provided unlimited fun and activity. For one, we could fish for crayfish and with an empty coffee can and a little salt the boiled crayfish would make a modern day gourmet jealous. And to fish for crayfish all that was needed was a short pole, a length of cotton string saved from the rice bags, a suitable pebble, and handful of dried shrimp or ebi for bait. Lower this rig in a calm part of the river and within seconds you would have a crayfish dangling on the line. If mom didn’t want to part with a handful of ebi, one single ebi was enough to catch the first crayfish which was then used for bait to catch everything therafter.

The river also provided fishing for oopu and “puntat” or catfish. Upstream large mouth oopu was the best for pan frying. Here again a short pole that was easy to maneuver in the underbrush, 20# sugi line fitted with a lead sinker and a good size hook was all that was needed. A can with earthworms served as bait. Of courses having a sharp eye to “spock the bugger” was also necessary. Carefully lower the hook baited with the earthworms in front of the oopu without scaring it and “wham” you had a one pound oopu hanging.

For “puntat” or catfish a different method was used. Using a longer bamboo pole with heavier sugi, sinker, hook and earthworm bait and at night we could hook a small number of catfish. I believe that this fishing method was more of a excuse to horse around on the river at night. 

Incidentally, we soon learned from our Filipino friends that to catch catfish just go after them with bare hands in the holes on the river banks. Stick your hand in the holes, feel for their sharp spines, put the one spine between your thumb and index finger and the second spine between your ring and little finger, squeeze and pull the fish out.

Very simple if you were brave enough.

To me catfish was not very tasty or eye appealing so if we did catch any catfish we tried to sell them to the old Chinese workers.

Along with oopu, crayfish, and catfish the river also provided for lots of frogs or bull frogs as differentiated from toads. In the evening during certain seasons it was common to hear the frogs sing their lullabies. This was the best time to go “frogging.” As soon as night fell, with a strong flashlight in hand and a bag to hold the catch, wade in the river and shine the light to locate the frogs; when one is located carefully hold the light on it to keep is mesmerized and with the other hand grab it from the back. You had to be quick and certain when you grab because the frogs can be slippery. If lucky the catch was sold to any vendor willing to take it. We ourselves were adverse to eating frog legs; only rich people considered it gourmet food. How we missed out!

Aside from the fishing, the river also played an important role in the lives of children growing up in the country. Because there were no public swimming pools back then I learned how to swim in the river. We learned from the older kids who made the river a natural water playground. Kaneohe was fortunate because of the many rivers flowing from the Koolaus to the bay. At certain spots due to the contour of the land and artificial dams built to accommodate irrigation for the rice paddies and taro fields, the river created deep pools perfect for swimming.

My dad harvesting grasses for his waterbull

We had the Haiku pool just below the present day Kahekili Highway, “green lake” pool near Benjamin Parker School, and of course “blue lake” pool next to our farm. As long as the river flowed and the swimming holes remained intact most of the neighborhood kids made the river their playground throughout the year. It was never ending fun. 

Pools that had high banks were perfect for high dives, “Buddha jumping,” and special “Paea” jumping the object of which was to create a specific directed splash. As with all creative children we also enhanced these swimming holes by damming the downside with rocks and branches.

At these swimming holes we also created our own athletic events without any formal organization, but with simple and specific rules. We played water “chasemaster” the object of which was to avoid being “tagged” and becoming the “it.” We also played “submarine” the obiect of which was to pass through a line of swimmers without being detected or “tagged.” This game required good underwater breath control and very strong underwater swimming skills.

In addition to swimming we built “tin” boats made from a sheet of salvaged corrugated roofing iron, pilfered tar from roofing kettles, and any discarded 2X12 and 2X4 lumber.

Depending on the length of the roofing iron or “totan” boats were six to eight feet long and able to carry one or two riders. Although these tin boats served their purpose they did have their drawbacks. If overloaded they sank easily. Also, they were not stable and would capsize if not skilled. And finally by nature of their design they had sharp sides and riders had to be extra careful not to get scraped from roofing iron edge. We also became creative by joining two boats together to make a river catamaran.

Although many young girls and boys enjoyed the swimming holes, I recall a specific tragedy near one of our favorite swimming spots. It happened in the late 40s or early 50s when a boy who was not a good swimmer tried to ride one of the tin boat and it capsized in deep water. He was found tangled under the river edge grass. After this incident this swimming hole was avoided by all for fear his ghost was still there to suck you in.

As Kaneohe experienced more development and new people and as our generation out grew our swimming holes we turned to the ocean and our skills learned in the river served us well to take to the ocean. Our playground became larger as we fished, dived and surfed all the beautiful beaches on the windward side.

Although change is inevitable and despite new subdivisions, highways, shopping malls, and the many families moving in Kaneohe of old will always be a part of me. There are too many friends, many who have moved away or passed, and memories that are still vivid in my mind that make Kaneohe my home always.

1940’s Census

I Caught COVID

Well, I was just thinking that I might be able to miss catching COVID this year. I was wrong.

I had so many exposures through work over the last 3 years and somehow avoided getting sick. I felt it was due to religious use of PPE that kept me safety. I never did think that it would be my own family member who would be the source.

I woke up last Friday with a diffuse headache in the back of my eyes, fever, runny nose, and a majorly sore throat. I had tested the day before due to my exposure from my husband and was negative. I retested they say I had symptoms and was still negative and called work. I was out for the count.

The next several days I had increasing congestion on top of the symptoms I started with. It wasn’t bad like the flu but it was not pleasant being all stuffed up. I was advised to take the test yesterday and was indeed positive.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be unvaccinated and getting this. It is no surprise why so many people died from this disease early on with no defenses. The other variants were very virulent that caused severe illness and disability. So far, 3 out of 5 of my household turned positive in a matter of a few days. So far, 2 of the kids are still negative.

So it is a good thing that most people are getting the mild variant right now with the immunocompromised still being at risk for severe disease. The bad thing is that we still have anti-vaxxers polluting people’s minds and spreading disease in the name of organic foods and supplement sales.

If the majority of people followed the anti-vaxxers beliefs, we would have a very unproductive society. Many people would be hit by disease and we all would feel the trickle down effects. An ill child keeps a parent home and they can’t provide for the family and it exponentially increases as we have opened up as a society again. The amount of disease spread would be enormous but thankfully, many have chosen to take the vaccine.

I’m still under the weather on day 6 with headaches, loss of appetite, runny nose, coughing, and sore throat but I feel I’m on the mend. I’m glad I got the mild symptoms of this disease while being vaccinated. I feel it has protected me and my family over the last 3 years along with PPE use. It is frustrating that 3 years later we are still affected by COVID. That is most likely due to ongoing disinformation campaigns.

Disinformation has a cost on society and we cannot stop fighting it. Our health depends on it.

Rooted in Tradition

My grandmother’s mochitsuki usu

After 3 long years of not being able to gather, my folks decided it was a safe time to restart our annual family tradition of pounding mochi.

We are fortunate to have the mochitsuki usu, the stone for pounding sticky rice into those delicious pillows of deliciousness. It is a tradition that was started centuries ago by my ancestors in Japan. When my great grandparents immigrated from Japan to the sugar plantations of Hawaii, they continued this tradition.

These stones were carved from basalt to replicate what was used in Japan and passed on to families over the years. Our usu was sitting under my grandma’s house for years until my aunt discovered it while cleaning up.

My dad studied how to make the hammers needed using ironwood from the farm. He mastered the craft and taught it to my nephew to help smooth the hammer to make a good pounding surface.

My mom was having my girls prepare the rice by washing it and soaking it to prepare to steam it the next day. It takes a good 24 hours to have the rice grains ready to be made into mochi.

The morning of pounding is setting up the steaming and washing of the stone. Water must also be boiled to prep the pounding and keep the hammers from sticking. Once that is all ready, it is time to pound.

It takes many people to pound the rice then hand form the mochis. We can add the traditional fillings or even add new stuff like peanut butter or Nutella. The old ways meld with the new but always keeping to the tradition of gathering and working together.

The very stone we use today connects us to the past. It is a reminder of where we came from and ties us to our roots. We know where we came from and share in the traditions that our ancestors started.

It is the same when we stand under the stars and look at the sky. My ancestors did the same as they traveled across the ocean in hopes for a better life. I am grateful for their bravery of leaving the comforts of home to make it better for the next generation.

It may be a new year ahead of us but we must remember that we share a connection to our past in so many ways. I was reminded of that today as my family did what my ancestors did for centuries.