On Oct. 11, 1975, Emperor and Empress Hirohito of Japan charted a Hawaiian Airlines aircraft for a trip between O‘ahu and the Island of Hawai‘i. The political couple, who made a historical appearance in Honolulu the day prior, flew to Kona to stay at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel before jetting back to Tokyo.
Our newest McDonnell Douglas DC-9 was used to complete the round-trip flight. The aircraft was retrofitted with specially designed bulkheads, privacy curtains, and staffed with four Japanese-American flight attendants to welcome the royal entourage.
The royal family’s trip to Hawai‘i was the last stop of a U.S. tour, and their appearance in Honolulu – Hirohito’s first since World War II ended three decades prior – was a momentous occasion for O‘ahu’s Japanese-American community, according to the New York Times.
“[The Emperor’s] weekend itinerary [in Honolulu] carefully avoided any of the numerous physical reminders of the Pacific war and the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7. 1941, that was carried out in the Emperor's name. But in remarks […], the Emperor alluded to the war when he described a century of friendly relations between the two countries. ‘It is regrettable that those bonds were ever broken, and I rejoice that they were restored and are stronger than ever,’ he said,” according to the Times.
Today, Japanese influence remains strong throughout Hawai‘i. Our Honolulu hub was recently named Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) to honor the late Sen. Inouye, a decorated World War II veteran who became an influential Japanese-American leader while representing Hawai‘i in Congress between 1963 and 2012.
Deep cultural ties are part of the reason why 1.6 million Japanese travelers visited Hawai‘i in 2018, including the nearly 392,000 visitors who chose Hawaiian Airlines to travel to our islands.
Facilitating travel between Hawai‘i and the Land of the Rising Sun continues to be a significant focus for our airline. We entered the market in 2010 with nonstop service between Haneda and HNL and have since added four popular routes, connecting Sapporo, Osaka and Narita to Honolulu, and Haneda to Kona on the Island of Hawai‘i.
Beginning Nov. 26, we’ll expand our thriving network by launching service between HNL and Fukuoka on the island of Kyushu.