Search our collections using the online catalog.

Materials available include:

  • Books: over 5,000 books in English and Japanese.
  • Primary source materials: archival collections (manuscripts, diaries, letters, etc.), oral history transcripts, and historic photos.
  • Periodicals: print and digital versions of back issues of the Hawai‘i Herald newspaper.
  • Vertical file materials: newspaper clippings, pamphlets, etc.
  • Audiovisual materials: a large collection of old phonograph records of Japanese music that was popular among Japanese Americans in Hawaii before, during, and just after World War II.
  • Fragile or rare books, as well as archival documents and other primary source materials, are stored in closed stacks, with usage supervised. Researchers wanting to use these materials must complete this Researcher Registration Form once every year.

It is recommended that researchers contact us in advance to make an appointment before visiting; the Resource Center staff may be able to pull relevant materials for you in preparation for your visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

We would like assistance with conducting genealogical and family research.

We are updating our Koseki and Translation Services program. New requests will not be accepted until further notice. We apologize for any inconvenience.

The JCCH does not have any genealogical resources in-house. The JCCH can assist with acquisition and translation of the koseki tohon from Japan.

Before we can help, you need to first go to the Japanese Consulate in Nuʻuanu and get your Issei ancestor’s immigration card. Please visit their website for more information.

See the "How do I get a koseki?" question below.

If you have just begun their genealogical search, you should start at the Hawaiʻi State Archives. They have all of the birth, death, and marriage records in the state.

The Hawaiʻi State Public Library System (HSPLS) offers free access to to all library card holders: 

If you have questions about which plantation their ancestors worked at, they should visit the Hawaii Sugar Plantation Association (HSPA) archives at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hamilton Library.

What is a koseki tohon and why do genealogists need them?

A koseki tohon is a Japanese family register. It’s a combination birth/death/marriage certificate for each member of a family. The koseki system was officially created during the Meiji Restoration in the 1870’s. This means that the koseki is helpful for anyone who wants to know more about any relatives their Issei ancestors left behind in Japan. For information beyond the 1800s the user should consult with the local temple in their ancestor’s hometown. They often kept birth and death records.

Koseki translation is the only genealogical assistance the JCCH can provide. We do not have the government records that genealogists usually need, and they should go to the Hawaii State Archives instead.

How do I get a koseki?

  1. The first step is to go to the Japanese Consulate General and ask for your Issei ancestor’s immigration card.  Please visit their website for more information.

    An immigration card is a document early Japanese immigrants filled out upon arrival in Hawaiʻi. It lists the name of the head of the family AND the family’s home address in Japan (honseki). Without this information, you cannot order a koseki. You will need to bring government documents that prove that they are directly descended from their Issei ancestors. Any questions regarding what documents they need should be directed to the Japanese Consulate at (808) 543-3111.

    If you do not yet have documentation that proves their relationship, you should visit the Hawaiʻi State Archives or the Department of Health. For this reason, ordering the koseki is the last steps in researching their family history. Copies of the documents you to show the Japanese Consulate will also need to be sent to Japan to order the koseki. Japanese law says that koseki can only be released to those who can prove that they are direct descendants. This is to prevent discrimination against historically marginalized groups like the Burakumin, because that information is also recorded on the koseki.

    Please note that the Japanese Consulate in Hawaiʻi seems to be the only one that still has immigration cards. Other Consulates did not necessarily keep them or returned them to the Japanese government.

    If your family is not from Hawaii, this method will not work for them, and they will have to find another way to learn their family’s honseki.

    You need to have the exact address, not just a prefecture or city, so that we can find out exactly which town hall would have the koseki tohon. Japan has redistricted several times in the past 100 years, so the koseki tohon may not be at the town hall closest to the village’s former location. 
  2. Once you have the immigration card, please fill out a translation request form. Requests are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. We do not translate documents for out-of-state patrons due to the handing of private identity documents. Fees vary depended on the complexity of the file. 
  3. Once the koseki application is completed by the JCCH translators, you will need to send it to Japan via certified mail with the appropriate fees (in yen) included. The koseki will be sent to you, usually in 6-8 weeks.
  4. Once the koseki is received by you, you can also request a koseki translation. Requests are filled on a first-come, first-served basis. We do not translate documents for out-of-state patrons due to the handing of private identity documents. Fees vary depended on the complexity of the file.

Iʻd like to make a book or document donation to the JCCH.

We are not currently accepting donations unless they are of historical materials to add to the archives. Please email with photos and a description of the materials so we can determine if we can accept them into our archive. 

Iʻd like to tour Honouliuli

The JCCH is not currently conducting Honouliuli tours.

Volunteer Opportunities

Would you like to learn more about the Japanese American experience in Hawai‘i? Would you like to support a valued organization in our community? Join us, as a volunteer, in operating the Resource Center. We welcome anyone who is willing to utilize their knowledge and skills to perform various tasks to support the day-to-day activities of the Tokioka Heritage Resource Center. Activities may include: data entry, cataloging or inventorying materials, maintaining the book collection, transcribing oral history interviews, scanning photos and documents, or translating.


(808) 945-7633 Ext. 42