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3rd Annual Story Festival

"Shinmachi: The Lost Town on the Bay"

April 17, 2005

The premise of the Annual Tsunami Story Festival sponsored by the Pacific Tsunami Museum each year is that each of us has a history, an account of things said and done in the past, and that preserving these stories and accounts helps us understand where we live and to make thoughtful decisions for the future.

Shinmachi temple sign
Here in Hilo we have a section of Hilo Bay that once was known as Shinmachi, a Japanese word meaning "New Town". It is now part of Wailoa State Park, and many in the community are unaware of the thriving community that once existed there and was washed away by the tsunamis of 1946 and 1960. All we have now is an expanse of green parkland.

Photo of the Shinmachi poster

For over thirty years, family members of Shinmachi survivors have gathered on the Sunday closest to April 1st for a ceremony of remembrance and to share a pot luck luncheon and talk over old times. This group has gotten smaller each year, and many of the stories were being lost. What we all took for granted as shared memories has now been preserved by the Pacific Tsunami Museum with assistance from a grant from the State Foundation on Culture and the Arts. The Pacific Tsunami Museum collected the recollections and stories of former Shinmachi residents. On April 17, 2005 four of these stories were featured in the Third Annual Tsunami Story Festival held in Hilo at Sangha Hall. The four featured were Hiromi "Skeeter" Tsutsumi, Yoshinobu Terada, Joan Yamamoto Shaw, and Donald Ikeda. All four represented different areas of Shinmachi as well as different time periods from 1920 to 1960.

This was the Third Annual Tsunami Story Festival, an event that has emerged as a signature event for the museum that is relished by the community for its remembrance of the past. By preserving and presenting the evidence of the past, and by actively connecting past, present and future, we pass on the gift of history to future generations.

Photo of the Shinmachi presentation
Shinmachi presentation

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130 Kamehameha Ave Hilo, HI 96720 tel: 808-935-0926 FAX: 808-935-0842 email:
Last Revised July 2010