|Born||October 30 1918|
|Died||October 10 1999|
|Birth Location||Honolulu, HI|
Military Intelligence Service veteran who was the chief executive officer of Kobayashi Travel Services, Polynesian Hospitality, and Kobayashi Hotel.
Kanae Kobayashi was the youngest of three sons of Kinjiro and Seki Kobayashi who were from Jigozen mura (village) now called Hatsukaichi City in Hiroshima prefecture. Kinjiro's brother, Unosuke Kobayashi, was the first in the family to travel to Hawai'i and he established the Kobayashi Ryokan (inn) on Beretania street after his first hotel burned in the Chinatown fire. Unosuke returned to Japan in 1908 and turned over the business to his brother Kinjiro. However, at the age of fifty-three, Kinjiro passed away and after Kobayashi's two oldest brothers passed away, Kobayashi inherited the business. However, Kobayashi was only ten at the time and his mother ran the business until he was old enough to take over. Yet the challenges of running the business and raising seven children—Kobayashi had four older sisters and two younger brothers—proved to be too much and Seki Kobayashi returned to Japan with her children and hired a manager to run the business in her stead. Kobayashi attended elementary school in Japan was accepted to Waseda University in Tōkyō in 1937. Yet after only one year in Japan, Kobayashi returned to Hawai'i to help run the ryokan along with his brother-in-law, James Nishi. Prior to the war, business prospered as they served a diverse clientele: neighbor island residents who arrived early in Honolulu to shop for omiyage (souvenirs) before departing to Japan, plantation workers from Wahiawā and 'Ewa who came to Honolulu and needed a place to stay, and other travelers. The ryokan also assisted the Japanese Consulate in issuing travel visas and recordings marriages and deaths.
During World War II, authorities restricted travel between Japan and Hawai'i and thus the Kobayashi family was separated for a number of years. Officials would draft Kobayashi into the U.S. Army and during the war he served in the Military Intelligence Service. To meet the changing needs of their clientele, the ryokan offered longer-stay options and even apartment-style monthly rates to individuals doing war-related government work. Once war ended, the ryokan flourished once more with the advent of air travel and the strength of the dollar in postwar Japan. Thus, in 1957 the ryokan was able to be rebuilt as a concrete structure that cost $450,000. Yet the rise of hotels in Waikīkī drew tourists and local travelers away from the ryokan and in response to the changing business landscape, Kobayashi transformed the business to become a travel agency and transportation company known as Polynesian Hospitality. The family also acquired the Waikiki Grand Hotel in 1963 and in 1982 closed the Kobayashi Hotel for good. In 1996, Kobayashi became the president of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii and participated in other organizations such as the Honolulu Jigozen Kai and the Honolulu Hiroshima Kenjinkai. On October 10, 1991, Kobayashi passed away at the age of 81 in Honolulu. He was survived by his wife Kashiko; sons Herbert, Michael, and Peter; daughters Momi and Donna; brother Tatsukichi; sisters, Yukie Nakatani and Harue Tachibana; and five grandchildren.
For More Information
Kei Suzuki, "Kanae Kobayashi," Hawaii Herald, 2 September 2011, 24.
"Kobayashi Travel Services," Hawaii Herald, 6 October 2000, B-15, B-16.