Excerpts

My name is Yoshiko (Excerpts)

My name is Yoshiko on AmazonChapter 1
A New Life

It is only now that I am a 94-year-old woman, I realize how brave my father was to come to America from Japan by himself in 1905. I wonder if he still would have made the journey if he known that after living in the United States for almost four decades, he, his wife and four children would be imprisoned behind barbed wire for two-and-a-half years, simply because of our Japanese ancestry.

Knowing my father’s ability to make the best of any situation, he probably would have come anyway. 

My father, Yoshigoro Kawaguchi, grew up very poor in the mountains of Wakayama, Japan, where he was a farmer. At the age of 28, he boarded a ship bound for Vancouver, Canada. Upon arriving, he settled in Seattle, Washington.

Dad’s good fortune began almost as soon as he started working in Seattle, when he met the Robeson family, who owned a candy store. The Robesons were relatives of a man named Hiram Johnson, an up-and-coming politician who became California’s governor in 1911. 

When the Robesons relocated to Los Angeles to live near Mr. Johnson, they invited Dad to come with them. He got work on the Johnson family’s large farm, where they grew hay and beans. Father’s job was cleaning the barn and horse stalls. It was not a very nice job, and he had to wake at 4:30 each morning to work. But it paid well: $150 per month which was very good in those days. 

The Johnsons must have liked my father a lot because they also provided him a place to live, health insurance and food. Over the 15 years he worked for them, they also paid for his trips to Japan three times. 

The Johnsons apparently could not pronounce my father’s name, Yoshigoro, so they gave him the name Henry. Dad kept that name until he passed away in 1967.

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Chapter 7
Living in a Horse Stall

Over the next few weeks, we began to see governmental notices posted around town announcing that all persons of Japanese ancestry were being “evacuated.” We were required to report on April 13, 1942, to a place the government was calling the “Santa Anita Assembly Center.” 

The notices said that each person could bring only one suitcase with them, just whatever we could carry. We were not told how long we would have to stay at this “assembly center” or what it would be like.

We didn’t know what to do with the few things we owned. One of our non-Japanese neighbors agreed to hold our beloved 1930 Ford for us, and also my sewing machine.

It was heartbreaking to watch Japanese men and woman have to walk away from businesses that they had spent years building, with all their belongings left inside their stores. There was no one left to care for the property left behind because the evacuation order affected all Japanese people, about 120,000 of us across the entire nation.

My father said, “Oh my goodness, we didn’t do anything bad.”

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Chapter 10
Rejoining America

Shortly before we left, camp authorities provided us each with $26. I wondered how in the world we were going to pay rent and buy food until we all found work with only $26 apiece! My father was 67 years old, and though my mother was much younger at 45, neither was excited to start their working lives all over again. But what choice did we have? My parents thought about returning to Japan, but quickly decided against that idea, preferring to stay close to us.

Just as we were preparing to leave the camp, good fortune smiled on us again. A friend we had made in Rohwer when he had lived in the barracks across from us, Mr. Yoshihara, had been freed shortly before we were. He wrote us a letter that he was working on a farm in Almont, Michigan, and invited us to help him. My parents decided to take a chance. My father said he was curious to see what was planted on the farm.

Our family of six packed our few belongings and left Rohwer on the Southern Pacific train. At that time, seating on the train was still segregated: we all sat in the front and there was a large blind pulled behind us to separate the white people from the blacks. We thought that was just terrible. After we, as Japanese Americans, had been removed from society for two-and-a-half years, now we were being allowed to sit in front of other U.S. citizens as if we were better than they were. It was bizarre.   Read more about Yoshiko's life in My name is Yoshiko

 

Kauai in my Heart (Excerpts)

Kauai in my Heart on AmazonChapter 1
From Japan to Hawaii, 1907

My father, Kichijiro Yamanaka, bowed low and gently grasped his mother's hands.

“Only three years and I will be back,” he whispered.

His mother (my grandmother) bowed slightly with her palms resting on her thighs and looked deeply into the eyes of her 17-year-old son.

“Work hard. Endure. Keep this charm,” she said, handing him a small omamori (good luck) pouch that he gently put in his pocket. “I will see you in three years.”

My grandfather stood a few paces behind, nervously glancing at the commotion on the busy Yokohama docks: Japanese men, women and children bustling around them; steamships lining the piers while men loaded and unloaded cargo; everyone attired in their best dark-colored kimonos.

As people walked the gangplank onto the stately steamship, the vessel swayed and creaked as passengers bound for Hawaii got on board. The large ship sounded its horn, signaling it was time for all passengers be aboard and all others to disembark.

“I’ll return with a lot of money and pay the taxes my parents owe to the Japanese government,” my father thought to himself. “Then my parents can live peacefully on their land.”

But as the ship gently rolled in the tides of Tokyo Bay, Kichijiro’s parents had an ominous feeling that this would be the last time they would see their Number Two son.

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Chapter 8
The Ghost of Felix

Mother believed that drinking the blood of the koi fish was an antidote for any ailment, and she drank some periodically to keep herself strong. It must have helped her — to raise 13 children took a lot of energy.

One evening after work, my father prepared to go koi fishing for Mother. She fried a bit of maguro fish for him to use as bait, including a small piece of the blood-red central part of the body to enhance the bait smell. She mixed it with granulated pig mush and carefully wrapped the gourmet fish food in a ball in the remnants of an old torn shirt. We kept worn-out clothing as rags in a barrel for such uses.

Father looked around for someone to keep him company on his fishing trip.

“Iko ya. Da're ikitai, ka.” (“Let's go! Who wants to go?”) my father called out.

The only kid around was me.

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Chapter 12
My First & Last Cockfight

The two men tethered roosters outside in their dirt yard. Each rooster had a little corrugated iron house and a can of water. These birds crowed and crowed throughout the day. I imagine this constant crowing was a call for dominance over hens, but Antone and Lazario raised no hens, so I suppose all the crowing was in vain.

When the two men came home from work each night, I heard the clanking sound of them refilling the roosters’ cans of water. They also tossed a handful of scratch feed on the ground. The men seemed to feed their chickens more carefully than they fed themselves. It looked to me like the men ate primarily rice, sharing some nightly with the cat that lived on their porch.

On Sunday nights, Antone and Lazario joined other Filipinos for cockfights in which roosters were made to battle each other while wearing metal spurs on their legs to harm one another. Spectators placed bets on the birds they thought would win. Cockfighting was made illegal in 1884 in Hawaii but for many years it was done on a regular basis in semi-secret.   Read more about Harry's life in Kauai in my Heart

 

Kauai Stories 2: From Pot to Pineapple (Excerpt)

Kauai Stories 2 by Write PathThe word “dynamo” was invented to describe Jude Huber. At five feet tall, with arms and hands that look powerful enough to rip a pineapple in half, she has the energy of five men, is articulate, funny and tenacious.

After surviving difficult teenage and early adult years of her own making in New York, and on Oahu and Maui, she finally found her home on the Garden Island of Kauai. She became an excellent housepainter and surfer along the way; learned about unconditional love from Hawaiian people; and, with her husband, Paul, became a full-time farmer of Kauai Sugarloaf pineapple, growing the sweet white-flesh delicacy at their 37-acre Hole in the Mountain Farm on the northeast side of Kauai. 

Against the backdrop of tidy rows of vibrant pineapple plants and her orchards of mango, longan and rambutan trees, Jude tells her story of how she came to Kauai and ultimately found her calling.

Wild Child

 

I came to Hawaii from Yonkers, New York when I was 17, but not because I wanted to or had this great plan for my life.

I had been a wild child right out of the gate. My mother says I never walked, I ran. I climbed on everything. I was not an obedient child. As a teenager, I started smoking pot (marijuana). I wouldn’t come home or I would “forget” to come home. I was killing my mom, making her nuts. She was having nervous breakdowns. It was a horrible time for both of us, and much worse for her.

My brother, who is 11 years older than I am, lived in Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu, owned a health food store and became an organic farmer. When he visited us in New York in the 1970s on his way to Morocco for business, he saw what kind of trouble I was in. He told my parents, “Just send her to Hawaii and I’ll straighten her out.”

My father asked me, “What do you think about moving to Hawaii?” What I really wanted to do was hang out with my boyfriend all summer and go to rock and roll concerts. But this came out of my mouth: “No, I want to work all summer and buy a motorcycle.” My father says, “Don’t tell your mother, but I’ll buy you whatever motorcycle you want if you leave for Hawaii tomorrow.”   Read more about Jude's adventures in Kauai Stories 2

 

 

Kauai Stories 2: Surf to Live, Live to Surf (Excerpt)

Kauai Stories 2 on AmazonWith boundless exuberance and a slim, fit body that would be the envy of many 30-year-olds, Mark Sausen, 65, is a prime example of how surfing keeps a person ageless. Since moving to Kauai in 1970 after a friend told him, “Mark, the surf is unbelievable!” he has ridden waves almost daily, had near-death experiences in the ocean and even lost a close friend to drowning while surfing. But the sheer joy and exhilaration of flying across water on a surfboard always keeps him coming back for more. 

Mark loves to talk about anything and everything related to surfing. With his articulate, witty rapid-fire delivery, sound effects thrown in to illustrate his points, he still sounds like the young man he was when he first came to Kauai, a down-to-earth, happy guy who is thrilled to be able to live to surf.

Now a surfboard shaper, making custom surfboards under his Papa Sau label, Mark lives with his wife, Louise, a Hawaiian woman, who is also a hula teacher. They make their home in Haena on the North Shore of Kauai.

  

Live To Surf

 

When I first came to Kauai in 1970, surfing was my life. It was surf, surf, surf, live to surf. That’s all my friends and I wanted to do. I felt like, “This is where I’m going to stay. I can’t leave. I’m going to figure this out one way or another.”

First we had to get a place to live. There were no places to rent. If you saw a surfer who had a place, you would say, “That guy is lucky! How did he do that?” There were no jobs either, only one restaurant near the end of the road in Haena named The Anchorage. They only had two waiters and two busboys. That’s all they needed.

I found a cottage on the beach near the restaurant for $150 per month. I called my friend Pierre, who was living in California, and said, “Come on over. I got a place on the beach, $75 apiece.”

I got a car to drive. It was a 1953 Plymouth. I got it for $35 bucks. I was living out here in the country — there was nothing out here on the North Shore then. I was about 21 years old, driving with no license, no nothing.

Pierre and I went into the Anchorage to apply to be busboys because the two waiter jobs were taken already. We had kind of longer hair. The owner says to us, “I can’t hire you with long hair. If you cut your hair, I probably could do it.” 

So we went right across the fence to our cottage and had Pierre’s girlfriend cut our hair, like bowl cuts. We looked like the Beatles. We went back over to the restaurant. The owner saw us and said, “Oh my God! You’ll do that for a job? You’re hired!” We were stoked to have a job.   Read more about surfing on Kauai in Kauai Stories 2

 

Kauai Stories 2: Unlocking the Hawaiian Language (Excerpt)

Kauai Stories 2 on AmazonFrances Nelson Haliaalohanokekupuna Frazier figures it must have been divine intervention that compelled her to become involved in saving the Hawaiian language from near extinction through her skills as a translator, decades after the language had been forced underground.

On a whim, she volunteered to help one of Hawaii’s most well-respected translators type up her notes. She soon taught herself to read the Hawaiian language, eventually translating two iconic Hawaiian stories into published books: “The True Story of Kaluaikoolau as told by his wife Piilani” and “Kamehameha and his Warrior Kekuhaupio.” Breathing new life into these tales and unlocking the Hawaiian language, Frances re-established connections for herself and countless others to their Hawaiian ancestry.

Extremely modest about her accomplishments, Frances chatted about her life in 2004 when she was 89 years old, her endearing small dog Mea Liilii (small person) sitting on her lap, looking up lovingly at her.

 

Struck By the Beauty of the Words

 

The important thing is that for no apparent reason at all when I was in my mid-30s, I volunteered to type up translations for Kawena Pukui, the Hawaiian language scholar at the Bishop Museum at that time. She was translating Hawaiian olis (chants) into English but she didn’t know how to type. Reading her translations showed me that the Hawaiian language is not the language of an ignorant savage people. It is a very beautiful language, full of all sorts of wonderful things. I was struck by the beauty of the words. That’s what got me hooked.

My mother was part-Hawaiian but there was very little teaching of the Hawaiian language done in that period of time. She and Kawena belonged to the generation that was punished for speaking even one Hawaiian word in school. When Hawaii was taken over and became a territory of the United States in 1898, people who were in the government told everybody, “You’re an American. Forget you are Hawaiian. We don’t want to hear Hawaiian spoken. We only want to hear English.” They were children so they adapted.

My father, who was a ship captain with the Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company, spoke Hawaiian because his crews in those days were all Hawaiian men. He understood a great deal of Hawaiian, mainly in his maritime goings-on. He had a big Hawaiian vocabulary. I never heard him speak it. We spoke English at home.   Read more about Frances' story in Kauai Stories 2



 

Kauai Stories 1: Keeping Hula Alive (Excerpt)

Kauai Stories 1 on AmazonLeinaala Pavao Jardin began dancing hula when she was three years old, continuing through high school and college, earning titles along the way including Miss Keiki (Child) Hula of Kauai, and winning the coveted Hawaiian Language Award at the Merrie Monarch Festival, the world’s most prestigious hula celebration. Leinaala became a kumu (teacher) and started her own hula halau (school) on Kauai in 1997 named Halau Ka Lei Mokihana o Leinaala. Her students continue to win numerous titles.

Leinaala’s dark eyes shine brightly as she speaks enthusiastically and joyfully about hula, laughing heartily and often, hands intuitively forming hula movements as she illustrates stories. She shares her journey to becoming a kumu, hula history on Kauai and the responsibility of keeping Hawaii’s traditional dance alive.

 

Hula is my passion. When I dance, I feel humbled but filled with pride. We are fortunate to be able to dance the hula because it was lost for so long.

I studied hula growing up on Kauai and that was my foundation, but when I went to the Big Island for college at the University of Hawaii at Hilo and joined Kumu Rae Fonseca’s halau (school), that’s when I really learned about hula. When he gave you your mele (song), he didn’t give you the English to it. It was in Hawaiian and you translated it together as a group, everybody dictionary in hand.

We learned how mele were composed. Normally if you’re writing a song about a loved one, you don’t even make mention of that loved one. You compare that person to a special flower or a special bird. Composers use the blossom as a metaphor for a loved one or a relationship. If a song is about surfing, the surfboard going in and out of the waves could be a metaphor for making love. That’s why when teaching hula, I’ve got to research the mele. You can’t just pick a song and teach it. If it’s a surfing song, you have no idea what’s behind it, and here I’m going to send out 12 little boys dancing this song!

When I studied with Kumu Rae, we made all our implements; we made all our leis. When I had been with his halau for only about three or four months, there were probably about 100 ladies trying out for the Merrie Monarch Festival and I got selected! Rae said, “Everybody has to sew their dresses.” So I called my mom and said, “You have to find me a seamstress.” Little did I know that he meant that we were going to sew our own dresses. That is when hula became real to me. It wasn’t store-bought.   Read more of Leina'ala's story in Kauai Stories 1

 

Kauai Stories 1: It's Magic (Excerpt)

Kauai Stories 1 on AmazonIn 1975, modern voyagers began sailing aboard Hokulea, a handsome 62-foot long double-hulled, twin-masted canoe built as a working replica of ancient Polynesian sailing vessels. Hokulea is navigated using only the same tools available to early Polynesians: stars and planets, sun, moon, wind, ocean swells, cloud formations, patterns of migratory birds and other forms of natural guidance, collectively called “wayfinding.” 

Keala Kai, a strong and gentle Hawaiian man, speaks poetically of his experiences sailing Polynesian-style and the connection he made with his ancestors while aboard Hokulea. A former professional lifeguard who was born and raised on Kauai, Keala was invited on his first Hokulea voyage in 2005 when he was 47 years old. Since then, he has sailed on Hokulea from Fukuoka, Japan to Oshima and then onto Uwajima; and from Hawaii to Palmyra Atoll in the central Pacific. After returning from his voyages, Keala was inspired to launch a new career as an artist, drawing intricate pencil sketches of sailing canoes of all shapes and sizes on canvasses and for his own line of clothing.

Sailing Among the Stars

The first thing that kind of grabs you is the sound a voyaging canoe makes when it’s just sitting. All the tension of the cords and the sails, it’s almost like the canoe is alive and it wants to go somewhere.

Before I ever sailed on Hokulea, I was sitting on a box on the canoe one day when she was moored at Nawiliwili Harbor on Kauai. Dennis Chun and other people that I read about in school, were discussing a sailing plan to Oahu. If I had just had that one moment, that would have been enough for me, just to be on the canoe with these people. Then out of the blue, Dennis and John Kruse (the first Kauai resident to sail on Hokulea), turned around at the same time and said, “Hey, Keala, what you doing tomorrow? You want to go sailing with us?” I had a lump in my throat and couldn’t answer. I just nodded.

My great-grandmother could speak Hawaiian but I can’t. But the next morning before we left, when we formed a circle on the canoe and the prayer was said in Hawaiian, it’s almost like some kind of ancestral knowledge came over me and I understood exactly what they were saying, even though I didn’t know the words. I could feel it. It was electric.

Then we went sailing.

Someone told me, “When you’re out there, the stars come down so low, it’s like Hokulea is lifting you up into the heavens, and you’re sailing among the stars.” Whenever you go aboard the Hokulea, it’s magic.   Reading more about sailing aboard Hokulea from Keala and two others in Kauai Stories 1

 

Kauai Stories 1: We had to prove our loyalty (Excerpt)

Kauai Stories 1 on AmazonKazuma Monty Nishiie is an original member of the 100th Battalion that fought in World War II for the U.S. Army. At 100 years old, Kazuma is still trim and alert, his small frame barely a wisp over 5 feet tall, posture as straight as when he was a soldier. His alert eyes take in everything around him. He speaks seriously and thoughtfully, occasionally inserting wry humor into his responses with little change in facial expression. The secret to his health and longevity? He points skyward and says, “The man above,” then pausing for effect, and with a slight hint of a mischievous grin, says, “and young wife.” Celia, his “young wife” sitting next to him, laughs heartily.

Before responding to questions, Kazuma pauses, seeming to review images in his mind, recalling events that took place almost seven decades ago. He speaks in short, compact sentences, using the bare minimum of words required to get his point across.

 

My father was born in Japan. He came to Kauai as contract labor for Kilauea Sugar Plantation. Transportation in those days was very bad. Many months on the ocean. Took long time. Terrible conditions.

My father worked hard, long hours. My mother was picture bride. She came from Japan, met my father when she got off the ship. She was a teenager. I am oldest of 10 children, five girls, five boys. My mother, with 10 children, lot of work. Large family. Very hard living. (Shakes his head at the memory.)

When I was a boy, I fished at Kilauea Beach, caught papio, ulua, moi. We used tree branches or twigs for fishing poles. More fish then than nowadays. Hunted pig, too.

I went to work for the plantation when I was 15. All my small earnings went to support the family.

Kazuma was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1940. Soon after he became a member of the original 100th Battalion, a unit comprised entirely of Nisei, the first generation of American-born children of Japanese parents. One of Kazuma’s younger brothers also joined the military. When Pearl Harbor was bombed by Japan, emotions ran high throughout Hawaii. 

It was terrible, you know. Parents’ country bombing Pearl Harbor. Because our parents were living in America, they knew the children must be American, must be faithful. They used to tell us, “Do your best in the service.” We had to prove our loyalty.   Read more about Kazuma Monty Nishiie, and three more of Kauai's WWII veterans in Kauai Stories 1

 

 

Kauai Stories 1: Growing Up on Kauai (Excerpt)

Kauai Stories 1 on AmazonHarry Yamanaka grew up in the 1930s and 1940s in Rice Camp, a settlement of small, wooden single-wall construction homes on dirt roads provided for employees by Kipu Sugar Plantation just southwest of Lihue. The privately-owned land of Kipu Kai is surrounded by the Hoary Head mountain range rising more than 2,000 feet, a pristine bay, and in those years, acres of sugar cane growing so tall it camouflaged the houses from outsiders. Harry was born the 10th of 13 children. His memories of growing up in Kipu bring the plantation camp alive again. 

  

I can still see the old plantation house in Rice Camp where our family of 15 lived. It was a typical wooden, single-walled house that was made available to all plantation field workers with four bedrooms and one living room. The kitchen was separate, adjoined by a walkway. We all fit in the house somehow. We doubled up, slept on the floor. As a child I didn’t think about it much because I didn’t know any better.

Our neighbors on one side were Filipino bachelors who worked long hours and tended to their roosters tethered in the yard. Our neighbors on the other side were the Kagawas. I remember clearly Jimmy, one of the Kagawa sons, and his irritating whistle to signal the kids in our household to keep quiet.

The area around the camp was full of peacocks, roosters and hens. No one was allowed to catch them, and Kauai was free of mongoose, a natural predator, so the birds were everywhere. They slept in trees and woke up early to announce their delight at the new day. The crowing and cawing were incessantly present in the early morning hours. Did you ever hear the loud scream from a peacock or guinea hen in the darkness of early morning? It did not bother me but I am sure it would not be the same for someone who has never experienced this.  Read more about growing up on Kauai from Harry and other people in Kauai Stories 1

 

 

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