Category Archives: history

HANAFUDA SAKURA

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The colorful flower cards are thicker than Western-style cards and players enjoy the “smacking” sound they make when slapped together.

In the 18th year of Tenmon (A.D. 1549) when Francisco Xavier landed in Japan from Europe the crew of his ship had carried a set of Hombre, 48-card Portuguese playing cards, which became extremely popular with the Japanese. Through a colorful history of being banned and declared illegal (which did not diminish cardplaying and gambling by the populace) the game of Hanafuda, which combined traditional Japanese games with Western-style playing cards, was developed in the late 1800s.

Entertaining and highly addictive the Hanafuda cards contain no numbers. Instead the 48 cards in the deck use pictures of flowers and plants. The deck is organized into 12 suites, one for each month of the year, and the types of plants represent the months in which they bloom. Hanafuda is commonly played in Hawaii and South Korea, though under different names. In Hawaii it is called Sakura, Hanafura, and Higobana.

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Just ask any local or longtime resident about this card game and you will likely invoke wonderful memories of fun that could go on for hours, and hours, and hours!

 

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Celebrating Kamehameha the Great

“He wishes to increase the happiness and not the wants of his people.”

~Captain Otto Von Kotzebue (1787-1846) Russian Navigator

Although there is some debate as to the precise year of his birth, Hawaiian legends claimed that a great king would one day unite the islands, and that the sign of his birth would be a comet. Halley’s comet was visible from Hawai`i in 1758.

The name Kamehameha means “the one set apart.” For 13 years, from 1782 to 1795, he waged numerous battles to conquer the islands, ultimately uniting the Hawaiian Islands in 1810, becoming the first king, and establishing a dynasty that endured for over a century.

As a leader in restoring the islands, he urged his people to work and to grow food. They said of him,

“He is a farmer, a fisherman, a maker of cloth, a provider for the needy, and a father to the fatherless.”

As king, Kamehameha took several steps to ensure that the islands remained a united realm even after his death. He unified the legal system and traded shrewdly with the foreigners that followed Captain Cook. He did not allow non-Hawaiians to own land and this edict ensured the islands’ independence during a time when other Pacific island nations were succumbed to colonization. When Kamehameha died in 1819 his body was hidden by his trusted friend Hoapili, and his wife Keopuolani. It is said that only the stars know Kamehameha’s final resting place.

Each year on June 11th a state holiday honors Hawaii’s first monarch.  In addition to the traditional draping of lei on his statues, floral parades take place throughout the islands. With hundreds of riders on horseback, the parades showcase pa‘u equestrian units, marching bands, private mounted units, hula halau, floats, and more.

 

HINAMATSURI Celebrating Girls Japanese Style

Grandmother to mother, mother to daughter ~ the wish for a daughter’s happiness is both valued and treasured, and still celebrated in this spirit.

The 3rd of March is called Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Festival) and has existed in Japan since the Edo Period (17 – 19 centuries). On this day families pray for the happiness and prosperity of their girls, to ward off evil spirits, and to help ensure that they grow up healthy and beautiful.  

A girl’s first “Girls’ Day” is called her Hatzu-Zekku and it is very popular for her to receive a Hina-Ningyo (doll) display. This display can have up to seven tiers with dolls and small furniture. At the top are the dolls of the emperor and empress, with a miniature gilded screen placed behind them, very much like the imperial court.

The dolls are ceremonial dolls, a heritage of the household, many of them handed down from generation to generation. They are displayed for a few days in the best room of the house at this festival time then carefully boxed and put away until the next year.  There is a superstition that says that families slow to put away the dolls will have trouble marrying off their daughters!

In addition to displaying Hina dolls, special foods are included in the celebration. Hina arare (pastel-colored light rice crackers) and hishimochi (diamond- shaped rice cakes with pink, green, and white layers) are placed in front of the Hina dolls as an offering.

Shirozake, a sweet drink made from fermented rice, is also served. Similar to sake, but without alcohol, it is safe for children to enjoy as well.

The celebration of Hinamatsuri, brought to Hawaii in the 1800s by Japanese immigrants who settled here to work on plantations, is one of so many diverse cultural traditions that have become part of life here in Maui Nui.

 

 

 

ARRIVING BY AIR

In the 1920s a select few well-heeled visitors came to vacation in the two or three grand hotels at Waikiki Beach. Some flew in small amphibian airplanes to see the volcanoes on the Big Island, but Maui was seldom on their itinerary.

Inter-Island Airways, Ltd., (which eventually became Hawaiian Airlines), a subsidiary of Inter-Island Steam Navigation Company, landed its first Sikorsky plane on Maui on November 11, 1929. The following year Maui’s first official airport opened at Ma’alaea, and Inter-Island Airways began a daily passenger service to Maui, carrying passengers aboard Sikorsky planes with a 75- minute flight time from Honolulu.

In early 1938, construction began on a new Maui airport near Camp 6 in Pu’unene. And during the early 1940’s, the military completed construction of air bases on Maui, including the Pu’unene Naval Air Station. During WWII, as Maui became an important training, staging, and rest area for U. S. military forces in the Pacific, that station was no longer big enough, and the Naval Air Station at Kahului (NASKA) was established in the cane fields and beaches around Kahului. After the war, the site at NASKA was described as the “most potentially ideal commercial airport site,” and in August, 1950, work began on Maui’s new commercial air terminal.

In 1951 Maui hosted 14,000 visitors.

The Kahului Airport became Maui’s main commercial and passenger air terminal on June 24, 1952, when Hawaiian Airlines and Trans-Pacific Airlines flights landed. By August, 1959, the year Hawai’i became a state, Maui had committed to developing its own visitor niche and work began at Ka’anapali, Hawaii’s first planned resort.

The early 1980’s brought direct service from the mainland to Maui when United Air Lines’ first flight from Los Angeles landed at the Kahului Airport carrying 180 passengers.

In 2010 Maui hosted 2,089,661 visitors.

MAKAHIKI: Hawaiian Thanksgiving

“Here is your nourishment, o gods of Wakea’s descendants.  Increase the growth of the land.  It is freed, it is freed, it is freed.”

~ Translated from the Makahiki chant “Kihapai o Lono” Written by Nalani Kanaka’ole

Na Huihui o Makali’i is a cluster of stars also known as the Pleaides, or the Seven Sisters.  It is revered in Hawaiian tradition as the place from where the first Hawaiian people came to Earth.

 In the season of Ho’oilo, at the month of Welehu (October/November), the appearance of the Makali’i cluster heralded Makahiki, a 4-month long harvest festival considered the most important time of the year.  It was  dedicated to honor and give thanks to the fertility and music god Lono who was identified with agriculture, planting of food crops, and rain.  He was one of the four gods (with , Kāne, and his twin brother Kanaloa) who existed before the world was created. 

 Makahiki celebrated the harvest and was a time of personal rest for spiritual and cultural renewal.  It was a time when all wars and battles were ceased, tributes and taxes were paid by each district to the ruling chief, sporting competitions and contests between villages were organized, and festive events were commenced.  Several of the rigid kapu (laws) were eased or temporarily set aside allowing  more freedom of activity and easy celebration.

Today many of the old Hawaiian games have been revived and are played at modern makahiki festivals and other cultural events.  Each year school children play ‘ulumaika (lawn bowling) and an array of other Hawaiian games such as heihei wa’a (canoe racing), uma (wrestling), pahe’e (javelin), konane (checkers), kimo (similar to jacks), o’o ihe (spear throwing), hukihuki (tug of war), and hu (spinning tops).

Makahiki games are played not only to develop skills and quick thinking, but to instill pride in  Hawaiian culture and keep it alive.

KALA: Hawaiian Money Before the Dollar

The Hawaiian Islands once issued their own currency and coinage under their own rulers.

Hawai’i’s first modern government was established in the early 19th century, but it wasn’t until 1847 that they established a modern treasury and issued currency.  Before this, Hawaiians relied on various plantation tokens and foreign coins.   The economy was so small it was not difficult to trade in this manner. 

As the economy and population grew, it became more difficult to exchange disparate monies, so a new, local money was established.  The dala or dollar was the currency of Hawaii between 1847 and 1898.  It was equal to the US dollar and was divided into 100 keneta or cents.  The 1847 Kamehameha penny was the first coin issued by the Hawaiian government.    The penny was the smallest denomination with several coins in between paralelling the structure and value of the U.S. dollar of the time.  They were minted in copper and produced in small numbers by a private U.S. mint — just enough for the small population of the islands.

During his reign (1874-1891), King Kalakaua was committed to developing Hawai’i’s power in the South Pacific and bringing more income to his small nation.  He needed new money to improve his country’s economy.  The old coins were eliminated from circulation, and a new set of money was commissioned. The U.S. Mint (as it still does today for other countries) produced this new coinage for Hawaii, and in 1883 they came up with Hawaii’s four requested coins: 1 dollar, 1/2 dollar, 1/4 dollar, and 1/8 dollar.  Larger denominations were also produced as paper currency, up to a $500 bill, in the allegorical style of most Western Hemisphere money of the time.

In 1898, Hawai’i became a territory of the  United States, and eventually the U.S. dollar supplanted their local currency.  However, this wasn’t the end of special Hawaiian money.  In January 1942, one month after Pearl Harbor was bombed, the U.S. government fearing enemy invasion announced that “New Money” was on its way.  

Specially imprinted notes became the only legal tender and had no value outside Hawai’i. The new money consisted of $1, $5, $10 and $20 denominations. Brown seals and serial numbers replaced the green and blue ones and the word HAWAII appeared twice on the front and once really big across the back. The ‘old’ money would no longer be legal tender in Hawai’i.

Due to citizen resistance, it took 27 months to complete the transition and to have the new money in circulation. The government appointed a special committee to dispose of some 200 million dollars of old money.  The enormous quantity of notes was hauled to the Aiea Sugar Mill on Oahu and incinerated.

Today, old Hawaiian coin and currency is  highly valued by collectors around the world.

 

PIDGIN: Help or Hindrance?

 “Every time we close the door on pidgin, we close the door on culture.”               ~Lois-Ann Yamanaka, Hawaii Author

Pidgin, or Hawaii Creole English as experts call it, began as a form of communication used between non-English speaking immigrants who came to work on the plantations, and the Hawaiian and English speaking residents.  Pidgin has been influenced by the many languages of settlers in Hawai’i which included Portuguese, Cantonese (Chinese), Japanese, Filipino and Korean, as well as Spanish, Mexican and Puerto Rican.

Pidgin started to be used outside the plantation between ethnic groups in the community, and school children learned pidgin from their classmates. Eventually it replaced their original languages and became the primary verbal communication of most of the people in Hawai’i.

Hawaiian Creole English borrows vocabulary and syntax from Hawaiian.  Most place names are retained from Hawaiian, as are some names for plants or animals.  For example, tuna fish are often called ahi.   Some expressions, such as brah and da kine, have found their way to other places.  Syntax often follows that of Hawaiian.  Certain words can be dropped if their meaning is implicit.  For example, instead of saying “It is hot today, isn’t it?,” a pidgin speaker is likely to say simply “stay hot, ah?” Grammatically, pidgin follows an English translation of the Hawaiian language.

In the classroom however there was intolerance of pidgin by Hawai’i’s teachers and administrators as it was considered to be a hindrance to learning standard English.

But in the 1970s, linguists studying the varieties of Creole English throughout the world came to consider these dialects to be languages in their own right and advocated their use in the classroom as a means of reaching pidgin-speaking students who could not understand the teachers.

Many Hawai’i children grew up speaking standard English in the classroom and at home, then switching to pidgin, or Hawaii Creole English,  in the playground and neighborhood. Those who can switch between two languages have an added skill and are known as ‘code switchers.’

“They have a clear advantage in that they can negotiate in different situations,” says Walter Wolfram, a North Carolina State University linguist.  In a 2004 study published in the journal Psychology and Aging, researchers determined that bilingual speakers are better able to deal with distractions, and that may help offset age-related declines in mental performance.