Kanae Kobayashi was born into the family hotel business, founded when his father and uncle opened the 10-room Kobayashi Hotel in 1892 to accommodate Japanese immigrants. Although the hotel was accidentally destroyed in the 1900 Chinatown fire, the Kobayashi family started over.
At the age of 10, Kanae was sent to Japan to study, eventually earning a business degree from the University of Waseda. During the war he served as an interpreter for the army until 1946 when he rejoined the family business. In post-war Hawai‘i, Kanae and his brothers, Hichiro and Tatsukichi, built the business from a single hotel into an enterprise that included three retail travel agencies, a wholesale outbound tour operation, ground handling, an inbound tour option operation, and ground transportation on O‘ahu, Hawai‘i, and Maui. As Hawai‘i tourism grew and evolved, so did the company.
In 1963, Kanae left the family hotel and travel service business in the control of his brothers to open the Waikīkī Grand Hotel and take over management of the Kaimana Beach Hotel. Kanae became a founding partner, and later President, of Hawaiian Pacific Resorts which became one of the largest chains in the islands. HPR built resort properties across the state including Queen Kapi‘olani, Hilo Lagoon, Kona Lagoon, Maui Beach, and Kaua‘i Beach resorts. After retiring from HPR, Kanae in 1989 returned and assumed control of the growing family businesses operating tour and ground transportation companies.
In addition to his contributions to Hawai‘i’s travel industry, Kanae became an active member of the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and many other Japanese organizations.
The Kobayashi family legacy lives on with two of Kanae’s sons, Michael (President) and Peter (Vice President) and his youngest brother Tatsukichi (Director) managing Kobayashi Travel Service. All are very active in the business.