Josephine “Jo” Honda

Josephine “Jo” Honda
Age: 94
Birthplace: Wahiawa, Hawai`i
Photographer: Sofia Reyes, Age 15 ~ Leilehua High School
Mrs. Hondaʻs parents came from Japan to Honolulu and later moved to rural Wahiawa. She attended Wahiawa Elementary School and Leilehua High School when it was located near Wheeler Field. Mrs. Honda worked extremely hard in her role as a small business owner functioning as an insurance and marriage agent and a notary public while also raising a family of five and working with her husband in the Honda Tofu Factory. At 94, Mrs. Honda continues to do aquatic exercises daily and recently renewed her driver’s license!
When I grew up in Wahiawa, there were so many things to do and learn, like kendo, little league, or judo, and the girls all learned how to sew.  But the most important part of my life was attending Wahiawa Showa Japanese Language School, one of three Japanese language schools in the area at the time. It was small, but very competitive. My teacher, Mrs. Haru Tanaka, was very strict and because of her traditional ways of teaching the Japanese language, I became very fluent in the language and when visiting Japan, I was thought of as a native rather than a visitor. This made me very proud.
We were always on the go and busy which is probably the reason for my longevity. While in high school I worked part-time for a doctor and later while raising a family of five, opened Josephine S. Honda Insurance and continued to add on other roles as a marriage agent and notary public. I don’t know when I slept because I also helped out at our Tofu Factory.
I often like to remember Cane Street and all the little local shops and restaurants that used to line it in the 1940ʻs. Many of the people are gone now, but a few remain like the Sawada Store. I also have especially fond memories of my 1940 Leilehua High School classmates because each year for 11 years we would have so much fun at our reunions held in Las Vegas.
I think life’s greatest gift is good health, being able to have an active lifestyle and learning traditional Japanese.

Sofia Reyes

I live in Mililani but attend Leilehua High School.  I participated in the ProjectFocus internship because I wanted to learn about what Wahiawa was like before my generation and to understand the different experiences and memories the elders had growing up. It’s important for the people of Wahiawa to know their roots even as our town continues to grow and modernize. I feel that the stories and history of Wahiawa should be recorded for future generations so they may be understood and learned from. Sofia Reyes
Age 15
Leilehua High School
Photographer: Lisa Uesugi
Kūpuna Josephine “Jo” Honda
Age 94
Mrs. Honda was hard-working and self-motivated and explained how many places, like Cane Street, have changed dramatically since her childhood.
One of my favorite things about the Wahiawa community is the delicious variety of local food that Wahiawa offers. My favorites places to eat are Shige’s, Sushiman and the Mexican food at Taqueria El Ranchero. I love writing, drawing, listening to music and traveling. I hope to enroll in a good university and become a veterinarian.

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