Kauai Stories 1

Kauai Stories 1: Growing Up on Kauai (excerpt)

Kauai Stories 1 on AmazonHarry Yamanaka grew up in the 1930s and 1940s in Rice Camp, a settlement of small, wooden single-wall construction homes on dirt roads provided for employees by Kipu Sugar Plantation just southwest of Lihue. The privately-owned land of Kipu Kai is surrounded by the Hoary Head mountain range rising more than 2,000 feet, a pristine bay, and in those years, acres of sugar cane growing so tall it camouflaged the houses from outsiders. Harry was born the 10th of 13 children. His memories of growing up in Kipu bring the plantation camp alive again. 


I can still see the old plantation house in Rice Camp where our family of 15 lived. It was a typical wooden, single-walled house that was made available to all plantation field workers with four bedrooms and one living room. The kitchen was separate, adjoined by a walkway. We all fit in the house somehow. We doubled up, slept on the floor. As a child I didn’t think about it much because I didn’t know any better.

Our neighbors on one side were Filipino bachelors who worked long hours and tended to their roosters tethered in the yard. Our neighbors on the other side were the Kagawas. I remember clearly Jimmy, one of the Kagawa sons, and his irritating whistle to signal the kids in our household to keep quiet.

The area around the camp was full of peacocks, roosters and hens. No one was allowed to catch them, and Kauai was free of mongoose, a natural predator, so the birds were everywhere. They slept in trees and woke up early to announce their delight at the new day. The crowing and cawing were incessantly present in the early morning hours. Did you ever hear the loud scream from a peacock or guinea hen in the darkness of early morning? It did not bother me but I am sure it would not be the same for someone who has never experienced this.  

Read more about growing up on Kauai from Harry and other people in Kauai Stories 1



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