Toki Times

"eh, howzit?" family newsletter


view:  full / summary

Toki Family Memoir

Posted by Andrea Toki Kenney on July 13, 2013 at 12:45 AM Comments comments (0)

Frances Shiori Mondo

Rocky Kazuo Mondo

Darlene Mitsuko Oshiro


Memoir by Shichan


January 1, 1972



















The Life and Love of Kamezo and Taga begins…





In her later years, at age 82. Taga tries to remember and bring back the “Good Old Days.”

Immigration to Hawai’i


It all started by two young, ambitious, adventurous brothers from Kumamoto, Japan, leaving behind a wife and two children: son, Kamezo and daughter, Otsuru. Kameichi, at the age of 35 years old, upon arriving on Kaua’i decided to stay and start a new life for himself and maybe someday, call all his family to Kaua’i.


His younger brother, Kamehachi had bigger ideas and wanted to pursue a better career for himself. He sailed on to the mainland and settled in Madison, Wisconsin. There he started a large vegitable farm, succeeded, and raised a large family.


Kameichi, his older brother, worked in the cane fields. From sun up to sun down, and being a well-liked, hard-working man from Japan, got promoted to being an assistant “Luna,” and rode a horse and became a Watchdog for the Lunas.


Kameichi Toki Kamehachi Toki


He felt superior then the rest of the plain workers and for this, he was stared jealously from them. He carried a whip and intimidated them to work hard. He was looked upon as a “teki” an “enemy” but he was a very respectable man in their eyes.


As many lonely years have passed, he decided to go back to Japan and bring back his sickly wife to Kaua’i. Leaving his two children with his parents, who owned a produce store in Kumamoto with hired help to take care of Kamezo, his teenage son, and a younger daughter, Otsuru, a very beautiful daughter who was very helpful to her grandparents, like cleaning the house while the worked at the store.


Unlike his younger sister, Otsuru, Kamezo was very spoiled doing nothing, just playing around with his friends.


Kameichi in his later years.


Kameichi was very Happy to have his wife at his side. Cooking for him, washing his clothes, which he had to do by himself all these years. But as the years went by, his wife (Kamezo’s mother) became weak and very sickly. And because of this situation, Kamezo’s mother begged Kameichi to call Kamezo to come to Kaua’i because she wanted to see him and let him be near to help her take care of Kameichi and be useful instead of just playing around like a “spoiled brat” in Japan.


And so, the immigration of Kamezo began. According to Kamezo, hearing about his father’s success story, riding horses every day to work, making more money than the other workers, he was looking forward to a new journey of a successful life in Hawai’i.


Kamezo at 19 years of age.

He happily said goodbye to his grandparents and his only kid sister, sailed the ocean for a month to finally reach the island of Kaua’i. But it was a bitter-sweet moment on his arrival. He was saddened to be told of his mother’s death a few days ago. According to his own words, Kamezo told us it was the most saddest day of his life and it was the first and last time that he ever cried in his life.


Today, his beloved mother is buried in a Kaua’i cemetery.


The first and last time Kamezo saw his mother’s grave was when he was 21 years old. In the year 1981, Uncle George took Kamezo to Kaua’i to see his mother’s grave, took them all day looking for it and finally found it covered with weeds. He was in his 80’s when he visited his mother’s grave for the last time.



Life and Love of Kamezo


Life went on for Kamezo the bachelor. Getting up early with his widowed father, making breakfast, lunch, and dinner for themselves every day. Kamezo admits it was very hard for them without his mother around to help with the chores.


His father, Kameichi, worked riding a horse. To make sure everybody worked hard, including his spoiled son, Kamezo. Kamezo earned 50¢ a day. His father earned $1.00 a day.


As soon as Kamezo started to save some money, his father decided to go to Japan and look for a wife. But, he was a shrewd man. He took all of Kamezo’s savings to pay for his boat fare, making sure he didn’t have much money to play around, but work hard and save more money again.


Before his father left for Japan, he was worried about Kamezo so he introduced him to a Hawaiian family that befriended him when he first came to Hawai’i. He asked them to look after Kamezo while he was gone. They were a very wealthy family with an English wife. They only had one child, a beautiful daughter.


One day, they invited him over for dinner. As soon as he saw their beautiful daughter, he couldn’t eat. They asked him if he didn’t like Hawaiian food. He replied, “I just want to look at her because of her beautiful face.” To him, as he told this story after he was around 80 years old, that it was his first love of a woman. He couldn’t eat, sleep, and just waited to be invited again so he could stare at her again.


At dinner one evening, her father took Kamezo to the porch and told him to look at the horizon outside. He pointed toward the horizon and said, “Kamezo, if you marry my daughter, all this land will be yours.”


Kamezo took this seriously to his heart and decided someday he’s going to marry this girl and be a rich man. With this dream in his heart and mind, he worked hard every day and became a very responsible, hard-working man, surpising his father when he came back from Japan. Admitting that he couldn’t find any good women to bring back to Kaua’i, he came home empty handed, no wife, no money.


Soon after, marriage came to Kameichi: young girl who was born here in his neighborhood. And so, Kamezo had a stepmother when he was around 20 years old. And as life became a little easier with his stepmother helping with their chores, Kamezo was very happy and thought, it would be nice to have a wife for himself, too, someday.


His thoughts were of “Haunani” the beautiful Hawaiian girl he met and fell in love. He will save lots of money and marry her and inherit a lot of land and be the richest Japanese man in Hawai’I with lots of half-breed, beautiful children. With dreams and hope for a bright future, he went to work from sun up to sun down, sometimes staying late for overtime work, earning 50¢ a day and 25¢ more for overtime.


His stepmother turned out to be strict and made sure that Kamezo went to work every day.


Life hasn’t been easy for Kamezo at times, but the hopes and dreams of happy days he carried in his heart that was soon to come gave him the incentive to keep on working hard.


Taga’s high school class in Kumamoto


As days went by, Kameichi was concerned about Kamezo’s future. Noticing How interested Kamezo was in the neighbor’s “Haunani,” marriage with other ethnic groups was unheard of in those days.


His father sent a letter to his good friend in Kumamoto, a fencing instructor in the village, to find a good wife for Kamezo. He immediately found a young 17 year old named Taga Hiraki from the same village. She had just graduated from high school as an honor roll student. Not a “ravishing beauty” but as her father described as “no one can beat her intelligence!”


Taga has heard many times how beautiful Hawai’i is and the life of her older sister “Taka-San” is enjoying and making money. All the more, taga yearned to come to this beautiful island. She wanted to work hard and make money so she could send…


Kamezo Toki: This photo was sent to Taga


Taga Hiraki: This photo was sent to Kamezo



…some money to her parents and go back and visit with them. Someday. With an adventurous spirit and the curiosity to want to learn new things, she was more than willing to travel to a foreign country.


The fencing instructor named Inokichi heard of this brilliant young girl. He immediately contacted the Hiraki Family and asked for her hand in marriage for Kamezo Toki. Seeing their daughter showed some interest, they consented to the marriage arrangement.


Soon after, a photograph of Kamezo arrived.


Soon after, Kamezo received Taga’s photo.


This was the beginning of Taga’s picture bride journey!


Taga’s parents in Kumamoto, Japan


When Taga was asked, “What was the first impression she had when she saw thie picture?” she chuckled and said, “Well, when his picture arrived in her village home, her family made a big fuss over it. I was only 17 and too shy to look so I ran into the bedroom. That night, someone placed his photo beside my pillow. So when no one was around, I took a good look at it and thought he was so ‘han-samm’ (handsome) not ‘bolo-head’ like he is now.”


On the other hand, when Kamezo was asked about his reaction to her photo when he received it back on the island of Kaua’i, he replied, “Well, I felt that I’m 22 years old now. I guess it’s about time I settle down.”


A marriage ritual in absentia was held at Inokichi’s home in the village since he was the go-between person for their marriage.


Taga wore a purple montsuki (kimono) with the five crested design on it…


Taga [right], her younger sister Umeno in center, cousin in left.


…and delicate hand-drawn design on the hemline. Since the groom was in Hawai’i, Kamezo’s picture was placed on a high shelf to show honor and respect to the bride’s future husband. Then the san-san kudo ritual (three times three exchange of nuptial cups to seal their marriage vows) was held between the bride and the groom’s picture. The bride’s name was then entered into the Toki Family Register in the Village Office. The marriage was now official according to the Japanese Law. However, the bride had to wait for six months to join her husband in Hawai’i. She finally left her village on October 11, 1918 via Nagasaki.


For the first time, Taga left her remote mountain village of Yatsushiro, located south of Kumamoto City in Kyushu. As Taga left for her first journey to a foreign country to marry a man she had never met, her mother’s…..


The promise of the wedding kimono was not kept.


…last words were, “Taga, do the best you can, and take good care of yourself.”


One the other hand, her father’s last words were, “Taga, you’re not a raging beauty, but you’ve got brains. Use it wisely and cater to your husband and work hard so he won’t send you back!”


“Saying goodbye to my family was very hard. I had to fight back tears… I still remember my mother wiping her tears with her apron. That, I can’t forget even to this day.”


After saying goodbye to all the neighbors and friends, her father told her, “Taga, there’s a purple kimono in the tolonko (suitcase) I sewed for you to wear. When you take a picture with your husband for a formal wedding, could you send us a photo of it? We will be waiting for it.”


Taga remembers her last words to him were, “Oto-san, arigato! (thank you) for all what you have done for me. I promis you I will send you the picture, please wait for it.” As her eyes filled up with tears of sadness, the promise was not kept.


Taga, reminiscing her past.


Arrival at the Immigration Station in Honolulu


Taga was sea sick throughout the voyage across the Pacific Ocean.


Frank "Papa" Mamalias in Honolulu Advertiser

Posted by Andrea Toki Kenney on October 8, 2010 at 8:59 PM Comments comments (0)

Frank Mamalias, 73, son of an early immigrant, plays the mandolin to entertain the crowd. The Kalihi man recalls his father’s arduous work on plantations and how he himself rose from laborer to manager.

JOAQUIN SIOPACK | The Honolulu Advertiser



Step right in and join the Filipino celebration

• Special report: Filipinos in Hawai'i: 100 Years

By Will Hoover

Advertiser Staff Writer










Celebrating 100 years of the Filipino community in Hawai'i officially began yesterday at the Hawai'i Convention Center, as hundreds of Filipino-Americans paid tribute to the December 1906 arrival of the first 15 sakadas, or Filipino plantation workers, aboard the ship Doric.


Some at the gathering were old enough to recall the players in that early drama. Frank Mamalias, 73, of Kalihi, knew about their struggle.


Mamalias' dad, Pedro Mamalias, came to Hawai'i from the Visayan island group in the Philippines after the original 15, and for most of the rest of his life, he labored on the plantations of Kaua'i. The work was backbreaking and unmerciful, according to Frank Mamalias.


"My dad suffered," he said. "It was worse than hard. When they were working, they were making less than a dollar. I used to go part time from school and help him, and we were getting paid 10 cents an hour."


As an adult, Frank Mamalias also spent many years as a plantation laborer on Kaua'i and O'ahu. The job was physically grueling, the money poor and the prospects dim.


But Mamalias lived by a motto that's fitting of the entire Filipino-American culture: "Never give up hope."


In time, Mamalias moved to operating heavy equipment on the plantation, which paid better. Then he got a shot at being a manager. And being a plantation boss paid far better than being a worker, he said.


As time passed, Mamalias was able to prosper.


"You always try to improve," he said.


The focal point of the morning's festivities was a historical tableau that began with the arrival of the first sakadas and continued through the beginning experiences of what became the making of the Filipino-American community in the Islands.


The moving time line took place on a banquet room's stage featuring numerous Filipino-Americans in period dress enacting moments of the history. The platform was backed by a large screen on which flashed black-and-white images of the Filipino community's plantation past.

A rousing soundtrack augmented the show.


U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie, D-Hawai'i, said he had never seen anything like it.


"I really hadn't anticipated what it would be like," Abercrombie said. "When you actually started putting three dimensions on these first 15 guys who came over — how scared they must have been — it was really something.


"This wasn't an adventure. It was like being cast to the edge of the Earth.


"What guts and determination it must have taken."


It paid off. According to the most recent Census figures, more than 22 percent of the state's residents identify themselves as Filipino or part-Filipino, making them one of the largest ethnic groups in Hawai'i.


Mamalias, who plays the Filipino mandolin, was part of a five-man instrumental group, the Julian Yorong Rondalla (string band), that performed traditional music in the convention center's lobby yesterday.


Among those watching was state Rep. Michael Magaoay, D-46th (Kahuku, North Shore, Schofield), who spent his childhood in plantation house No. 9 on Niho Street in the Waialua Sugar Mill's camp.

"I worked in the sugar mill part time as a kid, and I also used to pick pineapple, too," said Magaoay, who is acutely aware that his generation of Filipino-Americans is the last of the plantation era. The Waialua mill closed on Oct. 4, 1996.


"We can remember the past, show pictures of it, write about it," Magaoay said. "But my kids, and the future generations, will never experience it."


Elias Beniga, centennial commission chairman, said the yearlong celebration seeks to keep the memories of the struggle alive. At the same time, he said, it's vital that others outside the Filipino-American community are included in the process.


"What's important for our non-Filipino friends throughout the state and those who are traveling here to know is that we have a richness and culture heritage in Hawai'i that we want to share with everyone," he said.


Beniga characterized Filipino values as hard work, humility, generosity and fierce loyalty.


"This is the culmination of 100 years of influence in Hawai'i," said state Sen. Willie Espero D-20th ('Ewa Beach, Waipahu).


"And the Filipino community is very proud of being a part of the history and culture of this state."


Then he made a comment that reflected Mamalias' feelings about a heritage of hope.


"The best," Espero said, "is yet to come."

Pet lovers

Posted by Andrea Toki Kenney on October 5, 2010 at 8:28 PM Comments comments (0)

 This is a newspaper clipping in the kaua'i newspaper years ago...


Akira Toki, veteran

Posted by Andrea Toki Kenney on October 5, 2010 at 2:45 PM Comments comments (0)

I'm not sure how Akira Toki is related to us, i have to ask uncle howard again, but here is a book biography of his life.  there is also a middle school named after him!  check it out!



Tessie Spore, published children's book author

Posted by Andrea Toki Kenney on October 5, 2010 at 2:41 PM Comments comments (0)

did you know we have another published author in our family?!?!  check it out!




The idea for Santa Celebrates Jesus' Birthday came about when a small group of Christian parents were brainstorming ideas to keep all the "magic" of Santa Claus for their kids, while not diluting the real reason for the season, the birth of God's Son Jesus Christ. One of the parents said "I just tell my kids that Santa is this guy who is really excited about Jesus' birthday, so every year he gives out toys to kids as part of the celebration". After subsequent research revealed that the similarities between the real Saint Nicholas and the traditional myths about Santa Claus were amazingly similar, the inspiration for a book that would merge the two ideas together was born. The hope that the author has for this book is that parents would use this book as a springboard to teach their children about Jesus Christ, using the all too familiar imaginative figure of Santa Claus.

Wilfred Toki, author

Posted by Andrea Toki Kenney on October 3, 2010 at 10:19 PM Comments comments (3)

Did you know we have a published author in our family?  Wilfred Toki, brother of Howard Toki, Sr., has published children's books, popular in Hawaii's public library:




Here is some articles on Wilfred Toki:


Honolulu Advertiser:  One Life Lived, So Many Tales To Tell by Lee Cataluna


Honolulu Adverstiser:  Grandson Played Major Roll In Author's Hawaiian Stories by Lee Cataluna


Uncle Howard is still trying to get in contact with Wilfred.  He would probably know a LOT about our family history.  Be sure to check back to this site for updates!

Toki Decendents

Posted by Andrea Toki Kenney on October 3, 2010 at 9:54 PM Comments comments (3)


why does the lady in the picture look like verna?

why does the man resemble bulla?

do you know who these people are?

these are your decendents...


howard toki, jr. researched kamezo toki online and found this picture hidden in an online book about the early clothing styles in hawaii.  interestingly enough, he found the people in the pictures actually resembles other members of our family.  the two adults in the picture are kamezo toki (the man) and taga toki (the woman).  the child in the picture isn't related to us, but a friend's child that was told to stand in the picture.  a few years after this picture was taken, howard mitsuki toki, sr. was born.


Click here for the full article: Japanese CLothing in Hawaii by Barbara F. Kawakami