Hawaii Karate Seinenkai
Born in Naha on September 6, 1877, Kenwa Kanna had a distinguished career in the Japanese Navy. In 1921, he served as the Captain of the Katori, the battleship that carried then Crown Prince Hirohito on a multi-nation tour of Europe. The first stop made was in Okinawa, where Kanna arranged for a demonstration of Karate to be given. The demonstration was headed by Gichin Funakoshi. This was an auspicous event for the art. And the people of Okinawa were extremely honored that one of their own was the captain of the Crown Prince's ship.
Kanna visited Hawaii in 1908 when he was the commanding officer of the training ship Soya. During the Russo-Japanese War, he served as the navigating officer of the Kongo. During World War I, he was the commanding officer of the Tsuchima. He was highly decorated, having received the Order of the Golden Kite. During his tour to Europe as Captain of the Katori, he was decorated by England, France and Italy. Kanna rose to the rank of Rear Admiral before he retired in 1925.
In August of 1927, Kanna visited Hawaii with his daughter, Sachiko. They arrived about the Shinyo Maru. Kanna came here to give lectures and also to raise support for his run for the Japanese National Diet as a member of the Progessive Democratic party representing Okinawa Prefecture. He lectured on the Geneva Disarmament Conference. He also recounted stories about the Crown Prince.
Kanna supported the efforts of serveral Karate instructors. He wrote a foreward to Gichin Funakoshi's first book, Ryukyu Kenpo Toudi (1922). According to Morio Higaonna, Kanna also assisted Chojun Miyagi when he had difficulties obtaining permission to visit Hawaii in 1934.
Kanna's 1927 visit to Hawaii coincided with the visit of Kentsu Yabu. Yabu was also a military officer, having risen to the rank of Lieutenant in the Japanese Army. But he was better known as Yabu Gunso ("Sergeant"). Both Kanna and Yabu were supported by Tetsuo Toyama, the editor of the Jitsugyo No Hawaii journal. In late August, the three men visited Maui. Kanna also visited the Big Island, Lanai and Kauai. Local Okinawans enthusiastically endorsed and contributed funds for Kanna's political aspirations.
In September of 1927, Kanna and his daughter left for California. They stopped off in Hawaii for only a day or two on the return trip to Japan. On Sunday, October 2, 1927, an all-day picnic attended by nearly 3,000 Japanese was held at Kapiolani Park. T. Higa of Waipahu won the "Kanna Trophy" for Sumo that day.
Kanna returned to Hawaii in July of 1930, this time to raise funds for a home for immigrants in Naha. Kanna had become a member of the Japanese parliament. This visit was much quieter than in 1927, as local Okinawans were split by political debates and had become cautious about making overseas political donations. From Hawaii, Kanna travelled to the mainland and South America.
Books about Kanna:
The Hawaii Karate Seinenkai salutes Admiral Kenwa Kanna.
- Tenno No Kancho: Okinawa Shusshin Teitoku Kanna Kenwa No Shogai (The Captain of the Emperor's Warship: The Life of Kanna Kenwa From Okinawa), by Ryunosuke Megumi. 1985. 279 pages. Japanese language
- Kanna is discussed in Uchinanchu: A History of Okinawans in Hawaii, Ethnic Studies Oral History Project, United Okinawan Association of Hawaii. 1983. Ethnic Studies Program, University of Hawaii, 632 pages.
The spirit of Karate is the Aloha spirit
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