Shiho Nunes photo“I think I always wanted to write. I just never thought it was something I’d have the wherewithal or time to do.”

Shiho Shinoda Nunes grew up in a storytelling family and the rich cultural milieu of the Hawaiian Islands. She was born in 1917 to Japanese immigrant parents in the plantation village of Hilea, in the windswept district of Ka’u near South Point on the island of Hawai’i. In 1921 her family moved to Hilo, where her father became principal of a Japanese language school.

After graduating from Hilo High School in 1934, she attended the University of Southern California for a year, until homesickness drove her back to the islands. She obtained her bachelor’s degree and professional teaching diploma from the University of Hawai’i at Manoa in 1939 and returned to Hilo to teach.

In 1942, just months after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the internment of her father–and over the objections of both families–she married Bruno Nunes, the son of Portuguese immigrants from Madeira. They made their home in Hilo until 1959, when they moved to Honolulu with their three daughters.

During her long career in education she served as program manager for the Hawai’i Department of Education and as assistant director of the Curriculum Research and Development Group at the University of Hawai’i. She retired in 1977.

She was kept busy with the care of her parents–who by then were living with her–and her husband and five grandchildren. After the death of her parents and as her husband’s health was failing, she began to write. Her first book, The Shishu Ladies of Hilo, was a moving tribute to her parents and their students of Japanese embroidery.

In 2007 she moved to California to live with her daughter.

Now in her nineties and living in Berkeley, California, she continues to pursue her interests in the cultures of Asia and the Pacific region. She is currently working on a young adult novel set on the island of Hawai’i during the great wars of conquest between Kamehameha and Keoua, the beloved Chief of Ka’u.

Shiho Nunes was cited as one of the outstanding Japanese women in Hawai’i, in ‘Living Legacy: Outstanding Japanese Women of the 20th Century in Hawai’i’, by Scott C.S. Stone, 2002. His book commemorates the 50th Anniversary Celebration of The Japanese Women’s Society of Honolulu, honoring notable women who have “made significant contributions to the betterment of our society.”