Chinese New Year 2016 in Honolulu-The Year of The Monkey

 

I Had such a wonderful day in China Town today. It was the celebration of Chinese New Year. The year of the Monkey. My grandson Nico’s year.

It has been at least 40 years since I attended the last one. Same old, same old. “Oh I so want to go down and see the celebration” but I just always put it off.

Not this year. My family was going down and I was invited too so I went! Here is the proof in photos.

IMG_4308Some of my family

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IMG_4251These three are my favorite. There were so many of these toys, tee shirts and food lining the streets. We strolled all morning and spent lots of money.

IMG_4315I could not figure out what this was and I had a hard time understanding the Chinese man’s accent. He was patient and kept repeating until I figured it out. Red Dates!

IMG_4301So hard to choose. All was freshly cooked and smelled so good.

IMG_4312One of my favorites. Char Siu. Bought to take home

IMG_4310Can you tell we are in China Town?

IMG_4316This is one of the most popular bakeries in China Town. You have to get to it early or this is what happens.

Odds and Ends Along the Way

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A tip of the hat to my dear friend

chinese New Year 2016 - 61My daughter couldn’t resist all of the colorful cartoon items Inside the bookstore

IMG_4276At last what looked to be an authentic Item. When I went to check to see how much it was I was told it was being used by the fortune teller and not for sale. Sigh.

IMG_4300Guan Yin Goddess of Mercy. There is a wonderful blog that tells you all about her at https://lol8.wordpress.com/2010/04/03/dreams-on-her-birthdays/

IMG_4282And what is Chinese New Years without a Lion Dance. Here the lion hesitates. Should he enter the smoke?

IMG_4285But then his companion catches up to him and says, don’t worry little buddy I’ve got your back

IMG_4283And little buddy feels brave and stands tall and into the smoke he goes

IMG_4264These are other members who also participate in making the lion dance. They all wait their turn as the dancers change out quite frequently

chinese New Year 2016 - 44Here you can see them changing out. Notice the woman with the blue arm sticking out towards the green lion. She is offering him money for good luck. This is also how the club makes their money.

IMG_4294Oh the lion is so happy to have been fed.

IMG_4274So my daughter feeds the lion too. We can all use a bit of luck.

IMG_0391And I can use all the luck I can get.

IMG_4333Then these little lions came along. I could not resist following them as they would stop and wag their tail end.

IMG_4339The little lion makes it up the stairs and heads to this woman who definitely wants good luck for her business. See all those red papers on her desk? She has been feeding many lions and she must be feeding them well as the lions don’t give those papers to just anyone.

IMG_4342And there he is giving her another good luck paper

IMG_4330And these are the little children who are dancing that lion. They start from a very,very young age.

So what a wonderful day I had. I loved the banging, drumming and all of the commotion. I watched the smiles on all of the old Chinese people’s faces and wondered just what memories were going through their minds. For me I loved seeing all the different nationalities co-mingling. I thought what a wonderful island this is that we all celebrate and enjoy each others differences. That is why I can honesty say “Hawaii No ka oi.” (Hawaii is the best)

Mau Kau Kau (Are You Ready?)

It’s Friday morning and I call my friend, Yvonne. “OK the paper says that “Saving Mr. Banks” is playing at 10:30 at Kahala Mall. So let’s make it for Sunday, that way there will be even less traffic for me to drive in.” Yvonne lives in Waikiki so she is close to the theaters. “We can watch the move and then go get some lunch” I add.

Yvonne thinks that sounds good and I think I’m pretty smart because if I go into town at that time and on that day I will save myself a lot of stress driving.

Sunday arrives, I zoom into town and I pick her up and we are at the ticket office by 10 AM. I get my ticket. Yvonne puts her money down and for some reason the woman who is selling the tickets ask Yvonne, “Do you want the 1:00 PM show. She never asked me that she just gave me my ticket. We both say “No!”

I look at my ticket and notice mine says 1PM. “We want the 10:30 show the one that was in the Friday paper.” Ohʻ she says. The schedule changes on Sundays.

“Oh no!” I’m going to be stuck in traffic. Yvonne this is the absolute last time you will see me. If you don’t take the bus out my way I’m just not coming into town! And so my day begins. Full blown curmudgeon. I’m here, I want to see the movie, I have no choice. I jam my ticket into my wallet and try to calm down.

So we decide to walk through the mall and stall for time and take in an early lunch. So we start our stroll with plenty of time to kill.

DSCN2235In the middle of the mall there is a crowd waiting for something to start on the stage

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The people were waiting for these little girls.  I whip out my not so trusty pocket camera and try to focus. For some reason I can’t get a clear photo. Trust me these blurry little faces were adorable.

DSCN2210Here again as in my last blog these children who are getting ready to perform on stage in front of dozens of people are so calm and can think of nothing else but what is going on with their wrist.

DSCN2230Well one of them is paying attention and is standing ready at the stage. But where are the others?

DSCN2213They are laughing and enjoying themselves in line. No longer examining their hands they start to form some sort of line with their little ukuleles held tight. Still they are calm and collected.

DSCN2226At last they stand by the stage. Mommy makes last-minute adjustments.

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DSCN2224They watch as their kupuna (elders) finish their performance

DSCN2227And now it is time for their little bare feet to step upon the stage and warm the hearts of all those friends, families  and shoppers.

DSCN2228Another Mommy makes another last-minute adjustment and…DSCN2234Mau Kau Kau?DSCN2215Ai (yes). There little bodies move, maybe not in unison but they dance their little hearts out. Who knows. Maybe the next “Little Miss Keiki Hula is in this halau.

Now I have to admit, I truly enjoyed this. I went to have lunch with my best friend we looked in stores and I found a few things I needed. We then enjoyed watching the story of the making of Mary Poppins even though it made me feel like crying remembering how much I loved Walt Disney, the man not the studio. As a child I was ever hoping that I would see him one day at Disneyland. But alas when he died my dreams were shattered.

Then it was time to go home. To drive in what I knew was going to be a mess of traffic. How did I know? Because I’m a know it all. And as they say “mau kau kau?”  for the traffic? Aʻole (no.) And was there traffic? Aʻole. But am I going to go back? Not anytime soon.

Part 4 of The Waipahu Plantation Village

The Portuguese Arrive


It’s Halloween evening. You’ve been scaring people all night and your tired. You take a break to sit on the front porch of this house. It was once the house of a Portuguese family who worked on one of the sugar Plantations.

The Portuguese were the luckier of the plantation workers. They were considered white. On the island of Maderia there was a blight that was destroying the vinyards so many farmers took the opportunity to come to Hawaii. Unlike many of the other nationalities that immigrated to work on the plantations the portuguese were allowed to bring their families with them.

Because they were of the lighter race many of them were chosen to be lunas or foremen. It was not unusual for these lunas to use whips and physical force on the laborers. But this was not true of all. But it gives you an idea of what it was like to work from 6:00 AM to to 4:30 PM.

Upon newly arriving many of the different nationalities lived in crowded and unsanitary conditions. The houses that you see here were not what they would have arrived to. It was over time that the workers were able to improve their surroundings.

Living Room of the Portuguese Home 

Many of the Homes Had Some Type of Religious Shrine in Their Living Rooms

Kitchen in the Portuguese Home

Outside Oven

The portuguese were famous for their breads. And many of them after leaving the plantations started up their own bakeries. Most famous of the breads, we call Portuguese sweet bread or Pao Doce. Here is a wonderful website that has the recipe for the bread if you would like to try. http://www.hilo-hawaii.com/recipes.html
My kids are part Portuguese and I remember my mother in law saying that they would bake the bread with an egg in the middle. I’ve never seen that. In fact the Portuguese sweet bread you get now days has no comparison with that of the past generations.
Getting back to the front porch. My friend, who was sitting and resting, sees a little girl in a white dress walking along the dark path by herself. She called out to the child. Where is your mother? You shouldn’t be out by yourself. The little girl looked at her and skipped off.
Later that evening when all the scary cast came together and all the visitors to the “Haunted Plantation” had headed home, stories were told. One story was about the portuguese house. ” A child had died in the home” someone had said. The description of the child was given as she was often seen.
My friend said, “I saw that Child.”

Did she?

Anyway if you would like to read more about the Portuguese in Hawaii here is a site you can check out.
And if you would like to find out more about the Halloween Haunted Plantation here is their website. http://hawaiihauntedplantation.com/

Touching the Past Kealiiokamalu Church

As you sit on the white sands under the palm you breath a sigh as the ship sails by. Ah, this is a vacation you think to yourself as the sun smiles down on you.

La Marieanna

That evening you decide to go out for dinner and some drinks. You hear about this restaurant and bar called La Mariana. Everyone tells you it’s like stepping back into old Hawaii. The  owner had collected Hawaiian kitsch from famous restaurants as they closed down and then added them to her place. It is a museum of restaurant history.

As you sit at the bar relaxing you hear the couple next to you talking about how they were sorry to have to leave  the islands for home so quickly as they never really got to see what Hawaii was all about. There tan’s showed they probably spent all their time on the beach.

Many tourist go home thinking that Waikiki is Hawaii. They never venture out past Diamond Head until they take the ride back to the airport along the highway past all the industrial area.

They may have found had they driven around the island past the green velvet mountains full with water falls, and clear views of the ocean with uncrowded beaches, that there are so many things tucked away into the little towns. History that can be touched if only they would reach out.

One such place I found as I drove down some back street in Haleiwa was the Kealii O Kamalu Church.

Kealiiokamalu Church (Prince Of Peace)

The doors were wide open. Not many churches now days have their doors unlocked during the week if there is no service at that time. This structure was from the past and that is what drew  me to park and  take a look inside.

Kahu (minister) Kenneth Segawa

Inside the church there was a lot of construction going on. There was a man standing at the front on the porch with a handful of tools.

He was the Kahu or minister of this little community church. The church was under restoration. Though he was busy Kahu Ken invited me in to look around.

Looking from the front to the back of the Church

The  Kahu said that the congregation is very small and casual. He went on to say that it would not be unusal for a little child to be chasing a ball down the middle of the isle while he was conducting a sermon. He said that this was not a problem as he wanted the congregation to be comfortable and not stifled.

The sermon is given in Hawaiian as it was in the past. Part of the mission of this church is to perpetuate the Hawaiian language. The building is a typical example of a rural missionary church.

It has been in it’s present site since 1937 but was in existence long before that. I’m not quite sure but maybe it had been moved there from another site.

In Hawaiian tradition the front doors face makai (ocean) to welcome the bounty of the sea. The rear doors face Mauka (mountain) to welcome the gifts of the land.

Doors facing out to the Ocean

Back door open to the land

Looking around, even though everything was in disarray there was still a coziness to the structure. A Hawaiian community still existed and worshiped in the disappearing culture of the past. It gave one hope for the future.

Then Kahu Ken took me to the front of the church to show me what I took to be quite a significant piece of history. He removed a white cloth to expose an old bible. It was dated 1868. In the bible was recorded the death of  William Henry Tell’s wife.

Her name was Victoria Tell. Later I was to discover that Mrs. Tell was the daughter of Captain Alexander Harris. Not only did Captain Harris sail Kamehameha the Great‘s  cargo ship to china loaded with sandalwood, he was also noted for his part in the making of the controversial Hawaiian Flag.


Hawaiian Bible dated 1868 still used in the sermons of Kahu Ken

I was elated. Not only had I walked in to the past as I toured the little Hawaiian Church, I had actually touched History. I had touched the bible that had been a part of the life of the daughter who’s father was an intricate part of the highest chief of the land, King Kamehameha The Great. Talk about six degrees of Kevin Bacon.

A little side note if you were a fan of Lost. This was the church that was used in one of the episodes. You might enjoy going to this site to see how it was integrated into the story.  Lost

If you would like to attend the church one Sunday, the doors open at 9:30. If you are so inclined and would like to meet some of the people of the community there is a potluck after the Sunday Sermon on the first Sunday of the month.

The address of Kealii O Ka Malu is: 66-362 Halieiwa Road & Keahipaka St.

( the directions are in the “Lost” website above.)

Kukaniloko or Where’s the Aloha

Kukaniloko The Birthing Stones

The center of the island. Kukaniloko is a sacred area where it is said great chiefs are born. Mana, or power, energy, spiritual strength, emanates throughout the area.

Thousands of the commoners will be lined up in the distance waiting for the deep sound of the two pa’u drums to echo its announcement of a new chief”s birth.

Thirty six large stones placed in two rows, eighteen on the left and eighteen on the right, are flanked by thirty six chiefs  who are in line with them.

They are there to give testimony to the new alii‘s arrival in this very spot at the moment of birth. Having no written language these chiefs will be witness to the fact that the child is of royal birth and pledge their support.

The Birthing Stones

The alii’s wife is carried in on a fine woven mat by her retainers. She is brought to one of the birthing stones and placed above it. Her retainers will place their feet into the indention’s of the stone and the pregnant woman will sit on her retainers hips so as to not touch the ground.

A kahuna (Priest) will stand behind her and one will stand in front to catch the child as it is born. A piece of sharp bamboo is prepared to cut the umbilical cord from the mother.

Once the child’s cord is cut from her, the child is whisked away by forty eight chiefs who will perform the ceremony of cutting the naval cord from the child. Be it a male or female, both were recognized as chiefs divine and treated as such.

With such a history you would think that this area would be treated with the utmost respect and attention. But for many years it sat neglected because of problems with surrounding areas being used for growing crops for mainland landowners.

I remember visiting Kukaniloko many years ago for the first time and seeing weeds growing high and stones hidden between them. You could pretty much drive your car right over the area where once only alii could step foot on.

It was very sad to see and I couldn’t understand why it had been so neglected. Last month as I was reading a wonderful book called “Sites Of Oahu” by Sterling and Summers, I was once again introduced to the history of this area.

With a little background of what the area meant to the Hawaiian people and inspiration from the book I decided to go out their and check it out. To my surprise much had changed.

First of all the ability to drive right over the sacred ground was not there. Instead there was a very small area to park a couple of cars behind a chained off area. You now had to walk about a city block to get to it.

Stone formation at Kukaniloko

Stone formation at Kukaniloko

As I approached the site, off to my left was a man weed whacking the side of a small mound. I felt I was in luck as I still had some questions about the area and hoped maybe he could answer them.

He was a thin tanned  part Hawaiian who looked at me with half disdain as I started to talk. I had seen this look many times on Hawaiian people when approached on their turf because of people trying to crowd in on what was once their land.

Once we got into conversation though he softened up when he realized that I did have some idea of what I was talking about and I was respectful of the area I wanted information about.

As it turned out, his family (I’m thinking maybe it was more like his Ohana or extended family) was a part of Kukaniloko and had for years tried to bring it back to it’s original condition to give it the respect that it deserved. But the people who were working the land (and there is some argument that it does not belong to anyone but the Hawaiian people) refused to let them take care of it.

Now that the cane and pineapple are no longer grown and the land is up for sale (even though there is no proof that it belongs to those farmers) this group of Hawaiians have gotten together and have brought the area back to the manicured and beautiful condition that I saw that day.

The one complaint that the Hawaiian had as we talked was that no children were being brought out to be taught  how important and sacred this place was. I remarked with the developing of Hawaiian immersion programs maybe more children will be visiting and learning about it.

And just as we were finishing up our conversation a group of teens with a young woman leading them came up to the entrance where we stood and as they stood their she began to chant a Hawaiian greeting to the area before they entered.

The Hawaiian had a big smile on his face as he called out aloha to the woman and the kids. And of course I couldn’t have been more happy to see it happen myself.

Now, I have set out here the sacredness and importance of this area. I have also stated what has happened to it. A very important part of the Hawaiian Culture is once again being fought over because of the states refusal to recognize what was rightfully the Hawaiians.

Who, in the experience I’d just had deserved the Aloha? How would you react if you had been greeted as I was. Who should be offended?

Personally, I am thankful that I’ve been volunteering at Bishop Museum. It has forced me to do much research on the history of the Hawaiian people and I’ve become much more aware of who I am and who they are.

If I was not greeted with a big Aloha, I am not offended at all. There was much aloha there with the work that was being done on the area, the time that was put into bringing it back to it’s original condition and most of all making children aware of what their ancestors believed.

Here is a web site that has very interesting information on the process of the birth and information on the site of Kukaniloko. I was able to get more of a picture of the birth to use here in my post from it. Cultural Significance.

If you would like to read a great book on the sites of Oahu, once again here is the title of the one I used. “Sites of Oahu” by Sterling and Summers.

Lion Dance and Hawaiian Blessings

On Saturday, the 15th Of January our community dedicated the new community center at the Kunia park.

In Hawaii it is customary to have a Hawaiian blessing and, more often then not, a Chinese Lion Dance. So many in the area showed up for the festivities and quite a banquet of food. Here are some of the highlights from that day.

The Kahu (minister) and his sons

The Kahu who is draped in a Maile lei along with his sons gave the blessing.  The Maile  is one of the oldest form of lei. It has a wonderful light fragrant smell that last for days. It is draped around the neck horseshoe fashon. It is worn quite often by hula dancers. The leaf is a member of the periwinkle family.

Blessing with ti leaf and water

Before anyone can go into the new center the Kahu will sprinkle water around the area and inside of the center with a ti leaf. Ti leaves have been used from ancient times for wrapping food,  used as a dish, or even warmed and put on the forehead to help dispel a headache. They even made rain capes from them because of its ability to resist water.

But in the instance of the blessing the ancient Hawaiians used Ti to attract the good and stave off the bad. You will often see fans at a football game waving the ti leaf to bring good luck to their team.

The Lion (double click on photo to see inside the lions mouth)

The biggest attraction at any of these events is the Lion dance. Young children or young adults perform under these Lion costumes.

Waiting to perform

The lion begins to roar

The Cymbals clash

The drums begin to beat

With the loud clashing and drumming the lion is given his cue as to where and how to move

The lions approach the people. As the lion comes close he will open his mouth and the people will feed it money. This is thought to bring good luck and also helps out the club who is giving the dance.

There are many different types of moves that the Lion Makes. Some dances are very rigorous and include high kicks, jumps and dips.

After the blessing and the dance we all went into the new center. There was quite a buffet set up with different types of sushi, chicken, hot dogs, rice, noodles, pot stickers, lumpia and all types of desserts.

Everyone had a great time. I even ended up volunteering to serve on a committee to set up craft classes.

If you would like to read more about the maile lei you can go to this site.http://www.aloha-hawaii.com/hawaii/maile/

I’ve also added this site for an interesting back ground on how the lion dance got started here in Hawaii and back ground on the marshal art. Lion Dance