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Delegation from Oshima Island visits Big Island

From left: Managing Director William Takaba, Honorary Consul General of Japan Art Taniguchi, Zen Tanaka, Mayor Billy Kenoi, Dr. Masafumi Honda, and Mayumi Jinguh. (Photo courtesy of The Mayor’s Office)


A delegation from Hawaii County Sister City Oshima Island visited the office of Mayor Billy Kenoi on Friday, delivering a gift in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Sister City relationship.

In Japanese, Oshima means “big island” – so it’s fitting that Oshima Island’s only international Sister City relationship is with Hawaii’s biggest island.

Though Oshima is much smaller than Hawaii Island – about 35 square miles with a population of 8,500 in 2008 – it is home to waterfalls, valleys, and Mt. Mihara, an active volcano standing at 2,507 feet. The most recent eruption was in 1990.

Oshima is the largest island in the Izu group, more than a dozen islands extending south from the Izu Peninsula.

“Fifty years of a special friendship tie between our islands, which our predecessors continuously built, is the pride and honor of the people of Oshima-Machi,” wrote Oshima Mayor Masafumi Kawashima in a letter to Kenoi.

Kawashima was unable to come to Hawaii Island for the celebration, but Mayumi Jinguh and Zen Tanaka of Oshima visited on his behalf, delivering a letter and a gift – a copper relief depicting a rainbow bridge between the Sister Cities of Hawaii Island and Oshima Island.

Tanaka, the 19th master of a 414-year-old copper craftsmanship school, started his work with copper when he was 15 years old. The people of Oshima Island, including Kawashima, participated in crafting the piece.

“We are very honored and very privileged to call you our friends, to call you our neighbors, and to call you family,” Kenoi said.

The County of Hawaii’s Sister City relationship with Oshima Island was initiated in 1962 by the Board of Supervisors, the predecessor to today’s County Council. The Chairman and Executive Officer of the Board of Supervisors, the predecessor to the office of the Mayor, was Thomas K. ‘Lofty’ Cook.

Members of the Board of Supervisors at the time were Wing Kong ‘Winkie’ Chong, Elroy Osorio, Helene Hale, Sherwood Greenwell, Ikuo Hisaoka, and Elias Yadao.

The current mayor of Oshima-Machi, Kawashima, visited Hawaii Island before he was mayor – in 1996 as part of a volcano study tour to Mt. St. Helens on the Continental U.S. and three Hawaiian islands.

The last visit from Oshima Island to Hawaii County was in 2006, when a delegation of 100 people came in celebration of Oshima’s 50th anniversary of township.

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