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Thursday, August 11, 2011

HAWAII: END OF THE RAINBOW


For reasons that honestly elude me, I brought with me on this cruise an unopened book entitled, HAWAII:  END OF THE RAINBOW, published by Kazuo Miyamoto in 1964.  It is a family history of immigrants who left Japan to work in the sugar fields of Hawaii a century ago.  I might have bought it at a McKinley High School book sale (my alma mater), but the inside back cover says it belongs to the College of Education at the University of Hawaii (where I have had an office for about 40 years).  Best as I can determine, I must have stolen it.  I also noticed that two  of these used books are available at Amazon.com for $50 each.

I’m from Hawaii and rainbows reflect my life.  My books reflect this love for color, as the cover page of each is a rainbow bridge symbolizing a link between Hawaii and the world.  I was not prepared for the contents of this old book, for which I am only halfway through.

First, I had no idea how harsh lifestyles were for these newcomers to “Paradise.”  Book One of my publications reported mostly on my father’s father, who left Japan for America in the 1890’s, and somehow later found his way to the island of Kauai around 1900.  But, against all odds, he was a supervisor (documents found by the Mormon Center of Hawaii) and helped build the Wainiha hydroelectric facility on Kauai.  I earlier this year re-visited this site, and the same pipeline and equipment are still producing 3 megawatts of electricity 105 years later.  Click on Book One for details.

Anyway, my family was relatively fortunate, except for the fact that Kenjiro Takahashi fell at the power house site in 1906 three months before the facility was commissioned, and my father, then three years old, must have gone through a painful childhood.  Myself, the Japanese Americans who sacrificed their lives in World War II built a solid foundation for my youth and later success.  Not only was I incredibly fortunate to breeze through much of my early life, but, it turns out that my generation will be enjoying the peak of civilization.  I can predict that the combined effects of Peak Oil, Global Warming and Economic Depression will result in hell for the coming couple of generations, especially in Hawaii.  We are so dependent on tourism that when the price of oil zooms pass $150/barrel….

Anyway, again, the son of the original Miyamoto, amazingly enough, found his way to Stanford University soon after World War I, forty years before me.  While Minoru Miyamoto truly struggled, not knowing much English and having to weather racial prejudice, “lucky” to be able to pick fruits and grapes during the summer period to pay for his education, my summers were arranged by my older brother, who got me summer jobs at the Naval Civil Engineering Laboratory at Port Hueneme. 

After graduating from Stanford in 1962 with a chemical engineering degree, my classmates mostly joined the Peace Corps, so I felt compelled to also do some self sacrificing, and was hired by C. Brewer (that's Charles Brewer to the left), the oldest sugar company.  On one of my early assignments at the Kilauea plantation on Kauai, a very old man came up to me and said he knew my grandfather, who was buried on the hill above our town.  You can read these details by clicking on my daily blog.  This led to my roots search, but 40 years later, for Kenjiro on Hokkaido, way north of Sapporo to Utashinai. 

So, here, 12August2011, I find myself back on Kauai,, anguished about whether to find my way to Kilauea tomorrow to plant flowers at Kenjiro’s gravestone, or golf at the Jack Nicklaus golf course just a long driver or two from this ship.  Return for my decision.

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