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While immigrants from mainland Japan had been [[Japanese immigration to Hawaii|coming to Hawaii]] since [[1868]] (and more regularly since [[1885]]), Okinawans first began emigrating to Hawaii in [[1900]]. Though initially recruited as contract laborers, in June 1900, mere months after their arrival, the Organic Acts passed by the US Congress had outlawed contract labor, freeing Japanese and Okinawan plantation workers alike (along with those of Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and Hawaiian descent, among others) from their contracts.
 
While immigrants from mainland Japan had been [[Japanese immigration to Hawaii|coming to Hawaii]] since [[1868]] (and more regularly since [[1885]]), Okinawans first began emigrating to Hawaii in [[1900]]. Though initially recruited as contract laborers, in June 1900, mere months after their arrival, the Organic Acts passed by the US Congress had outlawed contract labor, freeing Japanese and Okinawan plantation workers alike (along with those of Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and Hawaiian descent, among others) from their contracts.
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[[Toyama Kyuzo|Tôyama Kyûzô]] is generally regarded as the "father" of Okinawan immigration to Hawaii. With economic conditions growing increasingly dire in [[Okinawa prefecture]], which had been [[Ryukyu shobun|annexed by Japan]] in the 1870s, Tôyama, a leader of the [[Freedom and People's Rights Movement]] (''Jiyû minken undô'') in Okinawa, petitioned the Japanese government to allow Okinawans to emigrate overseas in search of better lives. The first group of Okinawans to arrive in Hawaii numbered 26 men, all age 21 to 35.<ref>Thirty had left Okinawa with Tôyama. Three, however, did not pass health inspection at Yokohama, and one was turned back at the Honolulu quarantine station. Sakihara, 106.</ref> They arrived in Honolulu on January 8, 1900, and began work on Ewa Plantation on O'ahu after going through a week or so in quarantine.<ref>Odo and Sinoto, 200.</ref> Most members of the initial group, not desiring to put up with the horrendous labor conditions on the plantation, returned to Okinawa within a few years; a few relocated to the US mainland. By 1935, only two of those original 26 men remained in Hawaii. However, most of these men were from urban areas, and Tôyama was sure the second time around to recruit from rural areas, where people might have more extensive experience farming, and might be more able, or willing, to endure tough conditions.
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[[Toyama Kyuzo|Tôyama Kyûzô]] is generally regarded as the "father" of Okinawan immigration to Hawaii. With economic conditions growing increasingly dire in [[Okinawa prefecture]], which had been [[Ryukyu shobun|annexed by Japan]] in the 1870s, Tôyama, a leader of the [[Freedom and People's Rights Movement]] (''Jiyû minken undô'') in Okinawa, petitioned the Japanese government to allow Okinawans to emigrate overseas in search of better lives. The first group of Okinawans to arrive in Hawaii numbered 26 men, all age 21 to 35.<ref>Thirty had left Okinawa with Tôyama. Three, however, did not pass health inspection at Yokohama, and one was turned back at the Honolulu quarantine station. Sakihara, 106.</ref> They departed Okinawa on Dec 5, [[1899]], arrived in Honolulu roughly one month later, on January 8, 1900, and began work on Ewa Plantation on O'ahu after going through a week or so in quarantine.<ref>Odo and Sinoto, 200.</ref> Most members of the initial group, not desiring to put up with the horrendous labor conditions on the plantation, returned to Okinawa within a few years; a few relocated to the US mainland. By 1935, only two of those original 26 men remained in Hawaii. However, most of these men were from urban areas, and Tôyama was sure the second time around to recruit from rural areas, where people might have more extensive experience farming, and might be more able, or willing, to endure tough conditions.
    
The second group was one of 40 men, who arrived in [[1903]], and went to work on the Honokaa plantation on the Big Island of Hawaii.<ref>Forty-five people left Okinawa, and ten were detained at Yokohama, but five of those ten managed to make it to Hawaii later, making the total forty. Sakihara, 107.</ref> Finding the conditions on Honokaa unendurable, and forbidden to leave, nearly all of these men slipped away together one night, working for roughly one month on the Piihonua plantation near Hilo, before moving to Olaa, and then finally to Ewa, on O'ahu. Conditions on the plantations were not only terribly harsh in terms of the long hours and cruel ''luna'' (taskmasters), but many plantation workers also suffered from beriberi and other diseases. Even so, these men devoted themselves to their work, and within 18-30 months of their arrival, every one of them had earned enough to pay off the initial investments of the cost of their passage to Hawaii.
 
The second group was one of 40 men, who arrived in [[1903]], and went to work on the Honokaa plantation on the Big Island of Hawaii.<ref>Forty-five people left Okinawa, and ten were detained at Yokohama, but five of those ten managed to make it to Hawaii later, making the total forty. Sakihara, 107.</ref> Finding the conditions on Honokaa unendurable, and forbidden to leave, nearly all of these men slipped away together one night, working for roughly one month on the Piihonua plantation near Hilo, before moving to Olaa, and then finally to Ewa, on O'ahu. Conditions on the plantations were not only terribly harsh in terms of the long hours and cruel ''luna'' (taskmasters), but many plantation workers also suffered from beriberi and other diseases. Even so, these men devoted themselves to their work, and within 18-30 months of their arrival, every one of them had earned enough to pay off the initial investments of the cost of their passage to Hawaii.
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