Ka'awa Loa Plantation

PO Box 1280, Captain Cook, Hawaii, 96750, United States
Ka'awa Loa Plantation
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The beach?The beach?

Travel Tips for Captain Cook

Continuing on with the theme,...

by pjallittle

Continuing on with the theme, this is a family of people who are well known to me. They are standing in front of their Sugar Plantation home which has two bedrooms, considered among the finer plantation homes reserved for the supervisory class, very posh.
Typically, the house had no bathroom facilities, but did have furo (Japanese bath) just to the rear of the back door and an outhouse to the left. Deluxe, two holer. Complete with Sear's Catalog. There was a single cold water faucet at the kitchen sink, another upscale luxury item, both the water and the sink.

There were always fresh vegetables, a few fruit trees, herbs and chickens.

The people here are Soichi Ogawa and his wife, Hana, she was a picture bride pledged to another. Her son Jerry stands to her left, you can barely see her.

Queued below their parents are the eldest sister and first born, followed by her sisters. Three of these sisters are still alive today, one is in her eighties, the other two, including the little one, are in their seventies.

They are not particularly famous people albeit well known to many in Hawaii. Jerry was the Chief Law Enforcement Officer in the Puna District of Hawaii. His older sister, Makoto, (normally a man's name) became an integral part of an Engineering Supply firm, more about her later.

Miyuki became a Vice-President of the now defunct Spencecliff Corporation, Hawaii's largest Restaurant owners in years gone by. When she retired, this giant corporation fell apart and went bankrupt.

Yoshiko married one of the more powerful Union figures in United States and Hawai'i's Labor movement, Regional Director of the ILWU, Jack Hall. Her daughter married California Congressman, John Burton, Speaker of the Calif. Legislature, though now divorced. Their daughter is chief counsel to Willie Brown, the Honourable Mayor of San Francisco, one of California's most recognized politicians.

Sumiko left the Islands to become a college professor, and headed her Department at Laney College in SFO.

Miyako was able to put together enough to run a small dress shop but has always been the 'hard luck' person in the family. Her daughter was the University of Hawai'is homecoming queen some years ago. Her sister owns a business in New Caledonia.

Yuriko, the one with the doll, left Hawaii just after the War and went to Japan. Her husband invented and repaired slot machines. He also became involved in the Pachinko machine. They made a fortune, then went to Guam and did even more. Their daughter married a man destined to become governor of Guam.

There you have the first part of it, an unusual story of success from the roots of despair. From the heinous blades of the sugarcane field this former student of Shintoism with soft hands cried all the way home after his first day of work. His arms and hands were bleeding with small cuts. He who rescued and hid a 'picture bride' who could not bear to stay with the man who had purchased her.

Yes, she escaped and ran into the forests where Soichi found her, he had just returned from Seattle. He was an unusual man whose life is part of James Michener's book about HAWAII. The character name is Soichi Sakagawa. As you cruise around Hawaii, you will cross over many a bridge that span the streams. He was the supervisor of the crews that built these many decades ago. They are his legacy. And that is why he had such a ritzy two bedroom home, reserved for the lunas.

Imagine the luxury of this most fortunate group, 9 people in a 2 bedroom home. That was life for the most fortunate, well above average. Those less fortunate were in envy of this man with 7 children who all attended 2 schools, English Standard and Japanese.

The eldest, Makoto, brought and began an especially shameful trend to her parents dismay. Not only did she, but eventually ALL of her sisters, married White Caucasian MEN. This was her Mother's worst nightmare. What great shame. When their brother Jerry wanted to marry a white girl, of course, it was the last and final straw. His mother vowed to end her life! SEPPUKU.

Jerry did what a good son does, he married a Japanese woman from CAPTAIN COOK daughter of a coffee grower. Her name is Margaret and she is still alive, Jerry is gone. Together, they raised a family under the most difficult circumstances. Their first born son, Alan, was tragically afflicted with cerebral palsy, this was often a killer in the 40's. Alan is still alive and well today because of the undying support and dedication of his parents who had full time jobs and also operated an anthurium farm for many years for extra income. They laboured far into the night for many years.

The eldest born in the family pulled double duty, even after she left the Big Island with her young son and husband. They continued to see all of her sisters through college. She may have been the most talented of the bunch, but they were her charges and she bore the responsibiliy of the Oneesan, the one in charge. Her mother passed away some years after she left home and her father lived to a ripe old age.

A kindly old soul, he secretly married a woman just so she could collect a meagre plantation pension. No one knew, not even his family.

How is it that I came to know this area of CAPTAIN COOK so well? During summer vacations, we visited my Aunt Margaret's folks who still maintained a coffee plantation and were also growing macadamia nuts.

If you have not yet figured the end of this history story out, these are my grandparents, my uncle, my Mother and her sisters, my revered and venerable Aunts. One of them, at 80+ has seen more of the world than most of us ever will. She travels as a part of a group, or alone, whatever strikes her fancy.

It is a story of just one of many families in Hawaii, one that I hope will resonate, not for my sake, but so that all of you will understand the special circumstances that is just under the surface of the Islands of Hawaii.
Yet more, it is a story of resilience, resolve and the desire to succeed.

James Michener was a close friend of Uncle Jack and Aunt Yoshiko, he and his wife from Japan spent many hours together when the research was being prepared. As a tribute to Jack, his is the only non -fictional character actually bearing his actual name in the book, and Grandfather Ogawa became the theme for the Japanese section of the book.

Toward the end of the book, Mr. Michener devotes a full Chapter VI, the last. It is entitled THE GOLDEN MEN In this chapter he refers to '...in Hawaii, a new type of man was being developed. He was a man influenced by both the West and the East, a man at home in either the business councils of New York or the philosophical retreats of Kyoto, a man wholly modern and American yet in tune with the ancient and the Oriental. The name invented for his was the Golden Man.

There is not another author who is any better known for his thoughtful insights into the many countries that he has researched, lived in and written about. As a man who was himself married to a Japanese woman from Japan, he has always been interested in and rather eloquently manages to speak to the issues of mixed races, the blending of East and West. . In this chapter, Michener pays tribute to the results of and inherent difficulties sometimes experienced by the GOLDEN MEN (he was not politically correct, ladies) and looks to a future where race won't matter.

Those of you who are participants of VT and have traveled all over the world understand his message. I have a personally autographed first edition book given to me by James Michener in 1959, the same year that Hawaii achieved Statehood. Inscribed therein is the comment, 'TO HAWAII's GOLDEN MAN.........'

A very close friend of mine trumps this, however, he has a personally inscribed book, also a first edition, of Hiram Bingham's book which was written to commemorate his discovery of MACHU PICCHU.

Both books are eventually to be donated, we just have not decided to whom, Smithsonian, National Geographic or our High School.


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 Ka'awa Loa Plantation

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Ka`awa Loa Plantation Hotel Captain Cook

Address: PO Box 1280, Captain Cook, Hawaii, 96750, United States