Below is an old photograph of Hoichi and his dad, Hoyei Inafuku, among a group of Okinawan men. Hoichi is the young man in the middle sitting on the floor. His father, Hoyei, my grandfather, is sitting on the chair with his left arm on the table. He’s the one without the mustache. I was puzzled when I first looked at the photo since Hoichi and Hoyei looked more like brothers than father and son. Note the young man with the Russian-Japanese War medal sitting on the floor on Hoichi’s left.
My dad told me a funny story about Hoichi. In Waimea, Kauai, Hoichi came home one day with a brand new shiny five dollar gold watch, the kind that you keep in your pocket and take out when you want to know what time it is. My six-year-old dad was so fascinated by the watch. How did it work? he wondered. When Hoichi left to go somewhere, leaving his watch in the house, my dad took the watch to examine it closely.
He gradually took it apart, looking at this, looking at that. When his curiosity was satisfied, he tried to put the watch back together but couldn’t. When Hoichi came home and found his brand new gold watch all in pieces and not working, boy was he mad. I asked my dad if Hoichi gave him a lick’n. He said, “Nah, he knew I was just a curious kid.”
The photograph below of the Inafuku and Arashiro families with Mrs. Wakukawa (sitting second from left, Seiyei Wakukawa’s mother) was taken, I believe, in Honolulu in 1921 before my grandmother (fourth from left), my dad, Ronald (middle, sitting on ground), and my Aunty Annie (young girl sitting on ground) left Hawaii to bring the remains of my grandfather, Hoyei Inafuku, back to Haneji, Okinawa. Grandfather Hoyei passed away from influenza in Waimea, Kauai, in August 1918.
Hoichi Inafuku, with the white hat, is standing on the left, and his younger brother, Raymond Hotoku Inafuku, is standing on the right. The others in the photograph are members of the Arashiro family. Anso Arashiro, who is sitting on the right, is my grandmother Kamado Arashiro Inafuku’s brother.
I believe Hoichi accompanied his Inafuku family from Waimea to Honolulu where they boarded a ship bound for Japan. Hoichi then returned to Kauai.
In 1924, when my eleven-year-old dad returned from Okinawa, he came back to Honolulu without his mother and his sister. They had to stay in Japan because the Japanese authorities were concerned that they had a virus. My dad’s brother, Hoichi, came to Honolulu from Kauai and took him back to Kauai with him. My dad stayed for the summer. When his mother and his twin sister finally arrived in Honolulu, he went back to Honolulu. Grandma Inafuku decided they were going to settle in Honolulu. Hoichi remained in Kauai to continue to work on the sugar plantation.
In the photo below, Hoichi, wearing a dark suit, is with his younger brother, Raymond Hotoku Inafuku. In 1917, when Uncle Raymond was thirteen, he came to Hawaii from Okinawa to live with his Inafuku family in Kauai. This photograph was probably taken when Uncle Raymond went to visit Hoichi in Kauai.
Before Uncle Hoichi went back to Okinawa in 1940, the Inafuku family in Hawaii took a family picture for him to take back with him. In the photograph below, Uncle Raymond Hotoku Inafuku is standing on Hoichi’s right, and my dad, Ronald Hozo Inefuku, is standing on Hoichi’s left. My mom, Gladys, is holding my sister, Gwen, in her lap. Gwen was born in December 1939. My dad’s twin sister, Aunty Annie, could not make it, so a photograph of her was added. Our grandmother, Kamado Inafuku, is sitting in the middle, and Uncle Raymond’s wife, Lillian, is sitting on Grandma’s right with her son Donald in her lap. The other kids in the photograph are also their children.
Cousin Yasuo told me that, after having lived a short time in Okinawa, his dad, Hoichi, was ready to return to Hawaii. But WWII prevented that. Instead, Uncle Hoichi got married and started raising a family. Hoichi had six kids, two boys and four girls. Cousin Yasuo was born in 1942.
Uncle Hoichi’s inability to return to Hawaii because of the war turned out to be a blessing for the Okinawa people. His house was used as an orphanage. And because of his ability to speak English fluently, after the war ended, Uncle Hoichi became the spokesman for the Haneji community whenever they had to communicate with the Americans.
In April 1964, my dad, who was working in Guam at the time, got word from the family in Hawaii that he needed to go to Okinawa as soon as possible to see his brother, Hoichi. Hoichi was gravely ill and wasn’t expected to live much longer. Regretfully, my dad got to Okinawa three days after Uncle Hoichi passed away. Uncle Hoichi was 73 at the time.
The photograph below of the Inafuku family in Okinawa was taken in the Inafuku Taira house’s middle room. Standing, from left to right: Yasuo’s younger brother, Yasumune, Yasuo’s sister, Toyoko, my dad’s wife, Ruth, my dad in checkered shorts, and cousin Yasuo wearing the dark business suit. Yasuo’s youngest sister, Mitsuko, is the little girl standing.
Sitting from left to right is Yasuo’s mother-in-law, Sho Tokuda, Hoichi’s widow, Kame Inafuku, Hoichi, my dad’s Aunty Toku Shinjo, and Kamado Taira Inafuku, who is Uncle Hoso Inafuku’s wife. As a little boy in Okinawa, my dad lived with them.
My dad told me that he finished the two bottles of beer on the table in the photograph in one sitting. He said that after he finished the two bottles, they went out and got another bottle for him. Cousin Yasuo says with a chuckle that, like his dad, Hoichi, my dad could drink.
curious about the Taira Orphanage