Research Materials

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 Hawaiʻi 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.

Visits to the Tokioka Heritage Resource Center are by appointment only. The Resource Center may be able to assist you in your search for relevant materials before your visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can you assist me with 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 must first visit the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu to get your Issei ancestor's immigration card. (see "How do I get a koseki?")

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

Additional Resources:

  • The University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa Hamilton Library contains the Hawaii Sugar Plantation Association (HSPA) archives, which may contain information regarding plantation worker records.

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 you should consult with the local temple in your 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 Hawaiʻi State Archives instead.

How do I get a koseki?

1. Go to the Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu to get your Issei ancestor's immigration card.

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 you are directly descended from their Issei ancestors. 

If you do not yet have documentation that proves a direct 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 your family history. Copies of the documents you provide 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 Consulate General of Japan in Honolulu 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 Hawaiʻi, this method may not work for you.

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 translation is completed by our 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 you receive the koseki, you may 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 will vary depending on the complexity of the file.

Does the JCCH accept book or document donations?

We are not currently accepting book or document donations for the JCCH archives. If you believe your item(s) are of great historical significance and directly related to our mission, please email with a brief description and images of your item(s).

Volunteer at the Resource Center

Would you like to learn more about the Japanese American experience in Hawaiʻi? As a Resource Center volunteer, you will utilize your knowledge and skills to perform various tasks to support the day-to-day activities. Tasks may include data entry, cataloging or inventory of materials, book collection maintenance, oral history interview transcription, scanning photos and documents, and translating.

Learn More

Phone: (808) 945-7633 ext. 42