According to Japan’s Health Ministry, the average life expectancy on Okinawa is 81.2 years – 86 for women, 75 for men – the highest in the world. Okinawa’s average is significantly higher than that for all of Japan – 79.9 – which tops all countries in life expectancy. Hong Kong, at 79.1 years, is second.
Okinawa (the main island of a tropical chain of 160-coral islets) is the southernmost prefecture of Japan. It consists of hundreds of the Ryukyu Islands in a chain over 620-miles long. The islands extend southwest from Kyushu (the southwestern-most of Japan’s main four islands) to Taiwan. The Okinawa Prefecture encompasses the southern two thirds of that chain.
For centuries independent, Okinawa shared relationships with Japan, China and other south-east Asian entities and it became a prosperous trading nation (although China and Japan made claims to the islands through various dynasties.)
The islands became Okinawa Prefecture of Japan in 1879; after the end of World War II (1945,) Okinawa was under United States administration for 27 years, when (in 1972) the US government returned the islands to Japanese administration.
OK, so what about Hawaiʻi?
While Okinawa over the centuries benefitted from trade with its neighbors, and was described as a “connecting point” between China and Japan, the loss of independence saw growing hostility between Okinawans and Japanese immediately after its annexation to Japan.
Likewise, the islands of Ryukyu possessed only limited natural resources. Typhoons continuously destroyed crops. With increasing population, people faced the problem of inadequate food.
Out-migration was seen as a solution.
At about this same time, news was spreading about the 1885 agreement between the government of Japan and Hawaiʻi to export Japanese laborers to work on Hawaiʻi’s sugar plantations on the basis of a three-year contract. A large wave of Japanese laborers started arriving in 1885. Japanese also emigrated to Brazil and Argentina.
The economic depression in Japan (and into Okinawa Prefecture) made the prospects in Hawaiʻi more attractive; adding to the burden, it was the custom for the eldest son to inherit the farm, leaving the other siblings to fend for themselves; and others sought to avoid the military draft.
The similarity of climate of Okinawa and Hawaiʻi was an added attraction and enhanced the decision to make the move; Okinawa’s subtropical has an average summer temperatures in the mid-80s. Much of the year can also be rainy and humid.
Because of this climate, Okinawa produces sugarcane, pineapple, papaya and features popular botanical gardens; along the shore, Okinawa has abundant coral reefs. Hawaiʻi looked like home.
While Japanese from the four main islands were emigrating to Hawaiʻi, it took some time for folks on Okinawa to participate. Finally, under the leadership of Kyuzo Toyama (referred to as the Father of Okinawan Emigration,) on December 5, 1899, 26-Okinawans set out to sail from Naha Port and arrived in Hawaiʻi about a month later on January 8, 1900.
A statue of Kyuzo Toyama was constructed in Okinawa. He stands at the top of a long set of stairs, a globe is on his left side and he is pointing with his right towards the direction of Hawaiʻi. His vision was, “Let us set out and let the five continents be our home.”
But, life in Hawaiʻi wasn’t easy.
On most plantations, different nationalities were housed in separate camps. Although they adopted one another’s food, clothing, and speech, the various ethnic groups did not socialize with one another. Even within the same ethnic group, a separation of sorts existed based on regional and prefectural differences. (Yano)
Among the Japanese, the greatest distinction existed between the Naichi, people from the main islands of Japan, and the Uchinanchu, people of Okinawa. Uchinanchu were looked down upon by the Naichi and were assigned the hardest jobs. (Yano; Higashionna)
Adding to their problem was the Okinawan tradition of tattooing. Although outlawed with annexation with Japan, many Okinawan women had traditional tattooing of their hands and arms.
Tradition suggests this started in the middle of the last millennium; Okinawan women tattooed the top of their hands fingers with purple ink to repel the samurai, who considered the markings distasteful. Tattooing then grew into a sign of adulthood and was part of rites of passage at key moments in an Okinawan girl’s life, when she gets married, has children, becomes a widow, etc.
In Hawaiʻi, the Japanese from other prefectures considered tattoos to be a sign of low class or of a criminal element (yakuza.) This made many of the women ashamed and so they often hid their hands.
As the last prefectural group of Japanese to come to Hawaiʻi, the Okinawans faced additional difficulties integrating into the established community of Japanese who were predominantly from the southwestern prefectures of Japan. Before Japanese immigration would terminate in 1924, 20,000 more would follow from Okinawa. (Yano)
Plantation work was hard – 10-hour days, 6 days a week under the brutal sun. Okinawans also endured double discrimination from both the local population and their fellow Japanese workers who treated them as second-class citizens. At the peak, some 1,700 Okinawan immigrants had settled in Hawai‘i.
Many of the Okinawan Issei (first-generation arrivals) had planned to come to Hawaiʻi, work for a few years, and then go back to Okinawa with their riches. They sent money home, which helped the Okinawan economy.
However, conditions in Okinawa deteriorated, with a post war depression following the Russo-Japanese War and World War I and people were starving. Compared to immigrants from other parts of Japan, more Okinawans brought wives or sent for their wives and children; this made it easier for them to adapt to Hawaiʻi, so many of them ended up staying.
Certain character traits and behaviors helped the Okinawans to settle into their new homes in Hawaiʻi. Tege, meaning easygoing, is an adjective describing the Uchinanchu personality. Translated it means “almost acceptable” or “it will do for now.” (Higashionna)
The people of the Ryukyu islands operate on “Okinawan Time,” which means doing things on one’s own terms rather than someone else’s terms and schedules. It is an amazing lack of time-urgency, a sense of “What is the hurry? We have tomorrow.” (Higashionna)
About half of the Okinawan immigrants either returned to Okinawa or moved to the continental US in search of better opportunities.
Today it is estimated that there are over 50,000 people who can trace their roots to Okinawa. Legacies that remain (in spirit and presence) from the Okinawan immigration: Times Supermarkets, Tamashiro Market (Kalihi,) Zippy’s, Arakawa Store (formerly in Waipahu,) Hawai‘i Okinawa Center (Waipiʻo Gentry of Waipahu,) Haari Boat Races (Hilo,) Center for Okinawan Studies (UH-Mānoa.)
The 31st Okinawan Festival is being held this weekend – August 31 and September 1, 2013 – in Kapiʻolani Park.
The image shows Kyuzo Toyama; in addition, I have added other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.
A couple pioneers in neighbor island hospitality stand out in Hawaiʻi’s early fledgling visitor industry. At the time, emphasis and facilities were focused in Waikīkī. However, two locally-grown chains saw the opportunities and put their attention on the neighbor Islands.
Attention to the neighbor islands was not their only similarity. Each started as locally-owned and family-run. They grew to provide more than just a place to sleep and eat – their operations included tours and travel. Sadly, they are both gone.
The first, Inter-Island Resorts under the Child family, grew into a number of “Surf Resorts” on the neighbor islands; the other, Island Holidays, under the Guslanders, had several neighbor island “Palms Resorts.”
Here’s some background on each, as well as the connection that existed between them.
Walter Dudley Child, Sr. came to Hawaiʻi in the early-1920s; he first worked in the agriculture industry with the Hawaiʻi Sugar Planters Association (HSPA.) After a decade, he left HSPA and entered the hotel industry, purchasing the Blaisdell Hotel in downtown Honolulu; he later bought the Naniloa Hotel in Hilo.
In the early-1950s, Child became a director of Inter-Island Resorts, Ltd and later acquired the controlling interest in the company. The fortunes of the company rose along with the growth in the visitor industry, and Inter-Island Resorts began to grow into a chain, starting with the Naniloa, the Kona Inn and the Kauaʻi Inn (at Kalapakī Beach.) In those early days of Hawaiʻi tourism, Inter-Island Resorts became a pioneer in selling accommodations on the neighbor islands. (hawaii-edu)
When Walter Sr. suffered a debilitating stroke in 1955, Dudley Child succeeded his father as president. Dudley’s first big move came on July 1, 1960 with the opening of the Kauaʻi Surf on beachfront property on Kalapakī Beach. Child at the time called the Surf a “whole new philosophy in Neighbor Island hotels.”
This led to the Islands-wide “Surf Resorts” joining the Kona Inn under the Inter-Island banner. (The company later opened the Kona Surf (Keauhou) in 1960 and the Maui Surf (Kāʻanapali Beach in 1971.) In 1971, the company formed the “Islander Inns,” in a 3-way partnership of Inter-Island Resorts, Continental Airlines and Finance Factors.)
Dudley Child and Inter-Island Resorts understood and responded to the changing nature of the growing visitor industry. The company acquired/formed Trade-Wind Tours, Gray Line Tours and Island U-Drive, and developed close alliances with other major travel companies, providing a full range of travel services for Hawai‘i visitors. (hawaii-edu)
One of the significant contributions of Dudley Child and Inter-Island Resorts was the development of full service beach properties on the Neighbor Islands in the 1960s and 70s, which stimulated statewide tourism. Inter-Island Resorts eventually sold its properties to other operators, but the vision of its founding family was instrumental in the development of Hawai‘i tourism. (hawaii-edu)
Lyle Lowell “Gus” Guslander, started in the hotel business as a bellhop and cook. After studying hotel operations at Cornell University, Guslander was in management at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco, eventually working his way up to become assistant manager.
In 1947, Guslander came to Hawaiʻi and worked at the Niumalu Hotel for Walter Child, Sr. Both were characterized with short fuses and it didn’t take long for a disagreement to come between the two and Child “canned” him. Guslander moved to the Moana Hotel as assistant manager.
Then Guslander set out on his own; he initially leased, then purchased the 24-room Coco Palms Lodge on Kauaʻi – and later expanded it to nearly 400-rooms, naming it, simply, Coco Palms. He hired Grace Buscher to run it; he later married her.
Grace Guslander and Coco Palms are synonymous. She was an innovator – Hawaiians traditionally used torches as a light source when walking or fishing at night. But it wasn’t until the 1950s and Guslander that it became common to stick torches in the ground and pioneered the torch-lighting ceremony, which hotels throughout the islands eventually copied. (AP, Seattle Times, September 12, 2012)
Grace Guslander was later recognized for her accomplishments (she won a worldwide title of Hotel Manager of the Year in 1965 and in 1979 was the first woman to win the Man of the Year award at the International Hotel, Motel and Restaurant show in New York.)
Movies and television shows were filmed at the Coco Palms – Elvis Presley filmed the finale of his film “Blue Hawaiʻi” there in 1961, immortalizing its lush coconut groves and picturesque lagoons.
They also had closer ties with that industry – “Film stars John Wayne, Fed McMurray and Red Skelton have bought into a hotel company which operates three hotels in the outer Hawaiian Islands … the three own 18 percent of the Lyle Guslander Island Holiday Hotels Co. Hotels owned by the company are the Kona Palms, Maui Palms and Coco Palms.” (Independent Press-Telegram, July 24, 1955)
As the Coco Palms became successful, Gus expanded his operations eventually acquiring hotels on Kauaʻi, Oʻahu, Maui and the Big Island of Hawaiʻi under the Island Holidays chain, with several of the hotels under the “Palms” brand. Guslander also recognized, with his growing hotel operations, the need to expand in service and formed Island Holidays Tours. He had help from Myrtle Chun Lee.
In 1969, Guslander sold his operations to Amfac Inc and stayed on as an Amfac vice president until his retirement in 1978. In 1992, Hurricane Iniki severely damaged Coco Palms Hotel, several attempts have been made to repair and revive it (recent news suggests it will be coming back.) Gus died in 1984 at the age of 69, and Grace died in 2000 at 76.
In the 1950s, 60s and 70s, these two chains pioneered neighbor island hotel development – and for a while, competed head-to-head. Later, the mega-multi-national chains – Sheraton, Hilton, etc – entered the Hawaiʻi market. A few other island hotel chains were/are also part of the Hawaiʻi hotel experience, i.e. Outrigger, Aston and others – (many were more Waikīkī focused) but I’ll save those for other stories.
The image shows an Inter-Island Resorts Brochure (1964-1965.) In addition, I have added other images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.
In 1921, the Territorial Legislature authorized the construction of a memorial dedicated to the men and women of Hawai‘i who served in World War I, on the former Irwin property – it is known as the Waikīkī Natatorium War Memorial.
The Natatorium was completed in the summer of 1927, the first “living” war memorial in the United States and as a symbol of the way of life those who served fought to defend.
It is a “living” memorial in that it included a 100 X 40 meter saltwater swimming pool, built to honor 102 who died and the nearly 10,000 others who served in WWI from Hawai‘i.
The pool is surrounded on four sides by a twenty-foot wide deck which is enclosed on the three ocean sides by a three-foot high wall. On the fourth, mauka side, concrete bleachers rise thirteen levels in height and provide seating for approximately 2,500 people.
Olympic Gold Medalist and icon of modern surfing, Duke Kahanamoku swam the first ceremonial swim at its opening on August 24, 1927, his birthday.
An AAU National championship swimming meet, with swimmers from Japan and South America participating, capped the opening activities.
Olympic champion, Johnny Weissmuller, broke the world’s record for the 100-meter freestyle swim, and in the following three days of competition, set new world’s records for the 440 and 880-meter freestyles, cutting more than ten seconds off the previous world marks for these events.
Clarence “Buster” Crabbe, a local swimmer, who would later replace Weissmuller in the famous “Tarzan” series, won the 1,500-meter contest.
During its heyday, the Natatorium hosted celebrity swimmers including Esther Williams, as well as 34 members of the International Swimming Hall of Fame.
It was later also used by the DOE for its mandatory elementary school Learn to Swim Program (lots of kids learned to swim here.
Owned by the State but operated under an executive order to the City, the Natatorium was closed in 1979 due to thirty years of neglect.
The Natatorium is on both the National and State Registers of Historic Places. In 1995, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed it on its Most Endangered list. In 2005, Historic Hawai‘i Foundation listed the site on its inaugural Most Endangered Historic Sites list.
In November 2009, Mayor Mufi Hannemann announced that he will accept the recommendation of the Waikīkī War Memorial Natatorium Task Force to preserve the historic Natatorium’s memorial arches by reconstructing them further inland, and to create additional beach space by demolishing the crumbling swimming pool and bleachers.
Despite the announcement, the natatorium didn’t get torn down anytime soon (it’s still standing.) Demolition requires an environmental impact statement, permits, extensive planning, design and funding – about $15.1 million, according to the city. The process could take eight years.
In May 2011, Mayor Peter Carlisle stated that the City is in the process of developing an Environmental Impact Statement according to the recommended option of the Natatorium Task Force and advanced the recommendation to tear down the long-closed Natatorium.
The Friends of the Natatorium, which maintains this site, advocates for the preservation and restoration of the Waikīkī Natatorium War Memorial, seeking the return of this facility to active recreational use by the families of O‘ahu and by visitors to Hawai‘i.
However, recent reporting notes that the City and State intend to tear down the Natatorium pool and replace it with a new beach and park area; the war memorial arches will be moved away from the shoreline.
Like a lot of other kids in those days, I swam in the Natatorium pool and walked its decks.
The image shows the natatorium in 1928. In addition, I have added other related images in a folder of like name in the Photos section on my Facebook and Google+ pages.
The word “Sewer” is derived from the term “seaward” in Old English, as in ditches and ravines slightly sloped to run waste water from land to sea.
From an 1857 story in the Commercial Pacific Advertiser it appears that the first sewer facility to be constructed on Oʻahu was a storm drain located at Queen Street at the foot of Kaʻahumanu Street opposite Pier 11. (ASCE)
Despite three outbreaks of smallpox, a typhus epidemic and two cholera epidemics between 1853 and 1895, no other serious actions were taken to improve conditions.
Honolulu was a growing city and needed a better way of disposing its wastewater.
At that time, the city had grown to approximately 30,000-people, and it was estimated that about 1.8-million gallons of sewage was being disposed of in the City septic systems daily. This was much more than septic tank excavators could keep up with – which caused sanitation and odor concerns.
In 1897, Rudolph Hering, a New York Sanitary Engineer, was hired to prepare specifications for a Honolulu sewerage system, pumping station and ocean outfall (Hering had previously designed the New York and other large city sewage systems.)
Hering recommended a “separate system” whereby separate networks of conduits would carry sewage and storm waters, a system still used today in Honolulu.
Work on the system began in 1899 and sewer lines were laid out in a gravity flow pattern in a rectangular fashion and ran along Alapaʻi, River and South Streets, past Thomas Square, and ended in the Punahou area.
The system was extended to the remaining portion of what was then considered to be “town,” between Liliha on the ʻEwa side, Artesian Street, beyond Punahou to Judd Street, and including the Kewalo District.
The expansion was later delayed, due to a lack of funding. Much of the extension work thereafter was performed by property owners who were furnished piping and sewer components by the government.
The collection lines terminated at a main reservoir (the underground reservoir was dubbed the Hering Reservoir) at the low point at the intersection of Keawe Street and Ala Moana Boulevard in Kakaʻako. (Darnell) The sewage would then be pumped out to sea.
In addition, OG Traphagen (designer of the Moana Hotel) was hired to design the steam-powered sewer pumping station at this low spot.
The cost was tremendous for the construction of the lines, and construction was stopped several times due to lack of funding. The sewer outfall to the ocean was built in 1899. The outfall ran some 3,800-feet out to sea at a depth of 40-feet of water, rather than farther out to a 100-foot depth (again, due to funding constraints.) (Darnell)
In 1900, the Kakaʻako Pumping Station was constructed; with features such as large arched windows, exterior walls of local lava rock, roofs of green tile and a smokestack 76-feet tall.
The architectural style is Industrial Romanesque with the walls constructed of locally-cut bluestone and concrete with plaster finished interior walls.
The first sewer system connections (to the Department of Health building on Punchbowl and Queen Streets, and to the Post Office building on Bethel and Merchant) were completed in 1900. This was followed by the slow conversion of other properties from cesspools to sewers.
Two additions were built to support the Pumping Station facility. In 1925, an additional “Pump” building of brick to house a high-speed, electric powered pump was added and the original plant was turned into a machine shop, storeroom and office. In 1939 a second “New” Pump House was constructed on the southwestern side of the existing structures.
The use of the Kakaʻako Pumping Station was abandoned by the City and County of Honolulu when it built a new pumping station on the southwest portion of the block, adjacent to the Historic Ala Moana Pumping Station in 1955.
Now under the jurisdiction of the Hawaiʻi Community Development Authority, it is restored by the nonprofit Hawaiʻi Architectural Foundation.
Today, the interior of the 1900 Pumping Station does not contain any historic equipment or utilities. (Lots of information here from HCDA, HHF, ASCE and Darnell.)
In addition to this early image of the Kakaʻako Pumping Station (HCDA.)