Yosihiko Sinoto was born in Tokyo in 1924. To pursue a career in archaeology, he applied to and was accepted by the University of California–Berkeley in 1954. En route to California by ship, he stopped by chance in Honolulu, where he met Dr. Kenneth Emory, of the Bishop Museum. Dr. Emory invited him to observe an archaeological dig at South Point, on the Big Island, and was so impressed with the young man’s knowledge and skill that he insisted Sinoto abandon his plans of enrolling in Berkeley. “No, you can’t go anywhere; you must stay,” Dr. Emory insisted, eventually convincing Dr. Sinoto to switch to the University of Hawai‘i. Later, Dr. Sinoto would laughingly say that Dr. Emory “kidnapped” him. Dr. Sinoto received an undergraduate degree from UH-Mānoa while working as Dr. Emory’s research assistant at the Bishop Museum. In 1962, he received a doctorate from Hokkaido University and began working full-time at the Bishop Museum. What began as a promise to stay in Hawai‘i for one semester turned into a passion for Polynesian archaeology that has lasted for nearly six decades. Through his aloha, Dr. Sinoto has restored sacred sites in many places in Oceania, and he warns us of how much we will lose if the environments, cultures, and languages of the Pacific hemisphere are not protected.
In early October 2017, at the age of ninety-three, Dr. Sinoto passed away peacefully at his home. A memorial service was held at Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum on November 15; please see the image gallery for photographs of the event.