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Stories from the Plantation by Barbara K...
In 1986 local historian Barbara Kawakami and Women’s Studies Professor, Alice Chai introduced us to their project on picture brides. They had collected stories and photos from a sampling of women who came to Hawaiʻi as picture brides, with marriages arranged by families in which the bride and groom only knew each other from exchanged pictures. The stories told by women from Japan, Okinawa, and Korea, contained a range of human emotions from sadness to joy and often humor!
Ayako & Masaki Tabusa - Wedding Story
Ayako and Masaki Tabusa were married in 1932. There was some anxiety on the part of Ayako and her family since she was a “city girl”, marrying a “country boy” and they would be moving to the country and plantation life! Still it seemed to work out since when we interviewed them they had been married for more than 50 years! They recall the wedding and celebration at the Waipahu Japanese Social Club.
A Maid Story - Barbara Kawakami
In our archive we have an example from the remembrances of historian and former plantation worker, Barbara Kawakami. It was a new beginning for her when she he took a job as a maid for a well to do haole (Caucasian) couple. Barbara was both terrified and excited about this opportunity to see how others lived. It was her first real experience with haole culture and she was fascinated with the food consumed by her employer. Among other things, she was intrigued about, Jello!
Singing Holehole bushi
Oahu Sugar Company worker Sashichi Kumasaka (1895-1987) sings a holehole bushi. The lyrics were sung by Japanese plantation workers to a standard folk melody that accompanied their laborious cane stripping work. "Bushi" is the Japanese word for melody and "holehole" is Hawaiian for the dried sugarcane leaves that had to be manually stripped from the stalks at harvest.
Wedding kimono dressing
Barbara Kawakami dropped out of school to be a seamstress and help her mother earn income. She collected stories of plantation picture brides. She would return to school earning a BA in Fashion Design and an MA in Asian Studies. She introduces Mrs. Shizu Kaigo and friends as they display the special 3 layer kimono that Mrs. Kaigo wore for her wedding in 1916.
Stories from the plantation