Osame Manago


Name Osame Nagata Manago
Born April 16 1891
Died December 14 1996
Birth Location Fukuoka, Japan
Generational Identifier

Issei

Osame Nagata Manago was a picture bride who co-founded the Manago Hotel in Captain Cook, Hawai'i.

Background

Osame Manago was born in Fukuoka, Japan, on April 16, 1891, and worked on a rice farm with her parents and her four sisters. She attended school until the fifth grade and after a brief, unsuccessful marriage to a relative, she immigrated to Hawai'i in 1913 as one of 14,000 picture brides who arrived in the Islands. She met her husband, Kinzo Manago, at the Immigration Station and shortly after they were married at Izumo Taisha, a Shintō shrine located in downtown Honolulu. The Managos soon left to Kona where Kinzo worked as a cook for the Wallace family.

Life in Kona

To supplement the family’s income, Manago did additional jobs including picking up horse dung, embroidering linens, and sorting coffee beans for the Captain Cook Coffee Mill. When Manago's husband wanted to leave for Honolulu, his boss, Mr. Wallace, convinced him to stay and start a coffee shop and loaned him a hundred dollars to buy supplies. The Managos purchased a house in Hōnaunau that would be used for their home and business and they sold bread, udon, and coffee to area residents. The Managos soon expanded their business and as they became established in the community, drivers who accompanied businessmen staying at the nearby Paris Hotel, would request to stay at the shop for an inexpensive price. As Manago explained, "So we bought small single beds and put them in the extra space we had, and started letting those drivers stay. That's how we first started the Manago Hotel, back in 1917."[1] To accommodate the demand for rooms, the Managos built a second floor that included a Japanese room and they started to host meetings and established a restaurant. According to the Managos' son, Harold Manago, from the beginning his father was the bookkeeper as "he was more the quiet type."[2] However, it was his mother who was the business force in the family and who set the tone and pace of the business to be based upon hard work. "I think the work kept her going," explained Harold. "She never got sick the whole time. She worked from daylight to around ten o'clock at night and much of the time she had only one employee working with her." Manago also instilled that work ethic in her children explaining that "We brought up our children unspoiled; all my children worked hard, picking coffee, cutting firewood, doing laundry, ironing and cleaning, and helping me."[3] Manago recalled that her children were so busy that "my daughters sometimes didn't bathe for four or five days" as everyone helped to support the family.[4]

World War II Experience

During World War II, the Managos had to close the hotel to the public as soldiers began to patronize the hotel while being stationed on Hawai'i Island because they did not have anywhere else to go when they were off duty. They also ate at the restaurant when they did not want to eat at the camp. Harold Manago recalls his mother's cleverness when the military began to arrive in Kona as she made it a point to befriend the Military Police. According to Harold Manago, marines "came on sampan busses from Hilo, six or seven to a bus and seven or eight buses at time to stay at the hotel. And because the Military Police were always around, the troops were on their best behavior."[5] The Managos created a contract with the military to feed the troops. During the war, the Managos' business flourished. Their success continued even after the war as soldiers continued to patronize the hotel and as the community in the surrounding area began to grow. Although Manago passed away on December 14, 1996, at the age of 101, the Manago Hotel still remains in Kona, owned and operated by one of Manago's grandsons, Dwight Manago and his wife Cheryl.[6] According to a brief historical summary on the hotel's website: "Kinzo Manago never dreamed that the original hotel with two cots plus futons would turn into 64 full rooms, and a new three-story wing overlooking Kealakekua Bay and the City of Refuge." The hotel today represents the efforts of this entrepreneurial hard-working Issei woman.

Authored by Kelli Y. Nakamura, University of Hawai'i

For More Information

Manago Hotel website: http://www.managohotel.com/index.htm.

Kodama-Nishimoto, Michi, Warren S. Nishimoto, and Cynthia A. Oshiro, ed., Hanahana: An Oral History Anthology of Hawaii's Working People. Honolulu: Ethnic Studies Oral History Project, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 1984.

University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 1984. Ethnic Studies Oral History Project. A Social History of Kona. Honolulu: Ethnic Studies Oral History Project, Ethnic Studies Program, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 1981.

Footnotes

  1. Michi Kodama-Nishimoto, Warren S. Nishimoto, and Cynthia A. Oshiro, ed., Hanahana: An Oral History Anthology of Hawaii's Working People (Honolulu: Ethnic Studies Oral History Project, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa, 1984), 16.
  2. Scott C.S. Stone, Living Legacy: Outstanding Japanese Women of the 20th Century in Hawai'i (Honolulu: Japanese Women's Society Foundation, 2002), 62.
  3. Kodama-Nishimoto, 168.
  4. Kodama-Nishimoto, 162.
  5. Stone, 63.
  6. Kevin Kawamoto, 'Osame and Kinzo Manago," Hawaii Herald, October 17. 2008, B-4.