After four hours at the museum I managed to get over to the Castle exhibit hall to see the “Traditions and Transitions” exhibit. If you have read any of my blogs on the sugar industry here in Hawaii you would enjoy seeing these photos and artifacts from the Japanese collection.
The Japanese arrived with much hope and expectation having no real idea what back breaking work they would be expected to do.
Double click on the above photo to see wages earned by the Japanese sugar cane workers
As you look at these outfits that the women wore you can find them quite ingenious. I wonder if they made their own shoes? Of course they were wearing natural fabrics then, so at least they would breath. But all those layers must have been horrendous in our 80 and 90 degree weather as you worked in the open fields.
along with hopes and dreams came practicality. Here is a little shirt that was made from the rice sack. I remember several years back when this was a fad to have shirts and shorts made from them. Now you can’t even find them since it all rice only comes in paper sacks now.
I’ve read and seen movies about picture brides and as I looked at these beautiful Kimonos I wondered how many women were drawn in by exaggeration and false photos to think that when they arrived in Hawaii they would have occasion to wear such elaborate dress.
In Japan, Education was and still is very important. Those that had children set up schools for them. No that isn’t a computer screen but a chalk board. This is one of the traditions they brought with them.
These are some of the traditional books, tools clothing and toys they might have used
The tradition of Kendo was carried on as the a prefecture in Japan sent a Kendo master to teach discipline to the young children
As traditions became transitions some Japanese manage to scrape and save enough money from their meager earnings to set up their own store
a model of the inside of what one of those stores would have looked like
and like many immigrants who set up their own business they might have had living quarters like this above or behind the store.
I can still remember Musashiya’s fabric store from the 1960’s where I bought all of my fabric. It has been a part of Hawaii for over 100 years. I am not sure if the founder was a sugarcane worker but I’m sure he was an immigrant. If you’d like to read a charming piece on him you can go to http://archives.starbulletin.com/96/05/28/business/story1.html
Another store that transitioned from the fields to an important part of Hawaii life was Arakawas. It had everything you needed, a Japanese Woolworth so to speak. This is where you would find the Palaka print shirts that became an everyday site on the Hawaii scene. http://hawaiipalaka.wordpress.com/
Life on the sugarcane field eventually became more bearable and many things were added to help the workers live better lives. I will be doing a short blog on that in the near future as I cover the restored plantation houses in Ewa. Meanwhile try to get to the Bishop Museum to see this wonderful exhibit. You will get a good sense of what hard work and perseverance can accomplish.