Rep. Marumoto: Is it Legal for Japanese Billionaire Gensiro Kawamoto to Open a Museum in a Residential Neighborhood?

Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto / courtesy of
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Japanese billionaire Genshiro Kawamoto / courtesy of

BY MICHELE VAN HESSEN Hawaii’s news media is reporting that Japanese billionaire Gensiro Kawamoto wants to establish an art museum on his Kahala Avenue properties.

Representative Barbara Marumoto (R-19th Dist. Kaimuki/Waialae/Kahala) is calling for a discussion of this issue at a Neighborhood Board No. 3 meeting.

“I question whether one can start a museum in a residentially-zoned area without a variance.  I am not certain Kahala residents want such a facility in their neighborhood.  We need to hold a community discussion of Mr. Kawamoto’s proposal at the Waialae-Kahala Neighborhood Board No. 3 or at a Kahala Community Association meeting,” says Marumoto.

She adds, “Past history has shown that Mr. Kawamoto frequently acts without proper permits or obtains them after-the-fact. I wouldn’t be surprised if he intends to move ahead with his museum idea without the benefit of lawful permits.”

Marumoto hopes Kawamoto will attend the meeting.

“If Mr. Kawamoto or his staff attends a neighborhood meeting, we will be able to discuss the pros and cons of an art museum and collect input from area residents,” concluded Rep. Marumoto.

Because Kawamoto has racked up over 50 citations for various City infractions, Rep. Marumoto has introduced bills to make several infractions incurred over a short period of time in a small neighborhood a petty misdemeanor.  She has also proposed that neighbors who suffer damages from neglected or rundown properties be able to sue the owner of such properties.

Rep. Marumoto will be out of town for the November 19th meeting; however, she has asked Neighborhood Board #3 Chair, Scotty Anderson, to put this issue on the agenda for the following meeting.





  1. Not saying I like the crazy man, or what he has been doing to Kahala, but I believe in his interview with KHON, Kawamoto said that he wanted his houses to hold a “private” art gallery. I’m pretty sure if you fill a house with your own possessions and don’t have the public coming through to view it, it probably doesn’t violate and zoning laws.

  2. While Mr. Kawamoto has the right to invite guests to his home to view his etchings, he does not have a good track record regarding the niceties of the law. When reminded he has persistently applied for city permits after the fact. On Kahala Avenue alone, a street only 1 1/2 mile, he has amassed over 50 violations. On two occasions, when he did not remedy infractions, the City has gone so far as to prepare liens to take over his properties. With his 2 dozen rundown properties, he is not your model citizen.

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