Posted in Hawaii & South Pacific

Alani Oranges

Our final story includes a Hawai’ian and Japanese mistake:

A Japanese school teacher asked students what “orange” was in Japanese. One girl replied, “alani.” The Japanese school teacher said that was incorrect. The girl objected stating, “that is what her baban (Japanese grandmother) said it was, so it was so.” She stayed firm. Alas, alani is the Hawai’ian word for orange.

Cite: A Harvest of Hawai’i Plantation Pidgin: The Japanese Way by Myra Sachiko Ikeda


Posted in Hawaii & South Pacific

The Golden Cat

This week’s story includes a Hawai’ian and Japanese mistake:

Tama is a word for ball or gem. Somehow in Hawai’i, it became a common word for cat in the Japanese culture. So when a golden tabby entered the life of my husband as a young child, he carefully considered an appropriate name. Kin is the Japanese word for gold or golden, so he thought the name Kintama would be great to describe his Golden Cat. However, after telling his family the name he had so proudly chosen, his parents would not allow him to use it. It seems that he did not know that in Japanese kintama means testicles.

Cite: A Harvest of Hawai’i Plantation Pidgin: The Japanese Way by Myra Sachiko Ikeda


Posted in Hawaii & South Pacific

Menosabes and Ohana

This week’s stories include an English, Hawai’ian, and Portuguese mistakes:

Story 1:

For a period of time, my dad worked as a caretaker for a state park. One day, while trimming some flowers, a tourist asked as to the kind of flowers they were. Not knowing, he replied, “Me no sabe,” which is Pidgin for “I don’t know.” This phrase is English (me) no (English) sabe (Portuguese). The tourist then turned to her companion and exclaimed, “Look at those pretty menosabes!”

Story 2:

A friend relayed the story of a discussion her grandfather was having with the family. He said, “Ano ohana o ki o tsukete.” The family interpreted this as “Take care of that flower,” because ohana is Japanese for flower. The family looked and looked in the garden for some indication of some special flower to keep their grandfather’s wishes. However as most people who have watched any Hawai’ian based movies know, ohana is the Hawai’ian word for family. So the grandfather was using Japanese and Hawai’ian to say “take care of the family.”

Cite: A Harvest of Hawai’i Plantation Pidgin: The Japanese Way by Myra Sachiko Ikeda

Posted in Hawaii & South Pacific


This month we have some fun with stories. Living in Hawai’i, I am pleased to live and work with an amazing blend of cultures. Because these blends have happened over the decades by people of different cultures who came to Hawai’i for a better life (see some of my June 2016 posts for Hawai’i history), blends of languages have been created. They call these blends Pidgin. People assume that Pidgin is broken English. However, when you look closer, it is a blend of multiple languages including English put together for quick responses in common conversations.  To quote the book, “No sta’ broke, bugga, work fine,” which translates into “No, it is not broken, it works fine so it doesn’t need any fixing.”

This book concentrates specifically on the Japanese culture. Enjoy this story of common mistakes with Japanese and English words.

Two haole (Hawai’ian for Caucasian) salesmen go to the plantation manager’s house. He happens to be Japanese. His mother comes out and they say to her, “Can we see your son?” She looks at them and says, “Wakaran” which is Japanese for “I don’t know” because she doesn’t understand the English language and doesn’t know what they are saying. Fifteen minutes later they come back and ask her again. She looks at them and again says, “Wakaran” because she still doesn’t know what they are talking about. When they go back the third time, her son is home. He tells them, “Oh I just came home. This was good timing on your part.” And they reply, “No we’ve been here for a while.” Curious he asks, “What were you doing?” They replied, “Oh we were doing what your mother told us to do, we were walking around.” 

Cite: A Harvest of Hawai’I Plantation Pidgin: The Japanese Way by Myra Sachiko Ikeda


Posted in Hawaii & South Pacific

Peace and the End of the Comet

Using his relationships with the Kingdom of Beretania, Kamehameha gave lords and other titles to several British captains. They were given titles and lands in exchange for their ships, supplies, and support. (When I first arrived in Honolulu, it seemed that I could not travel anywhere without traveling or crossing the street, Beretania.)

Sandalwood, plentiful on the island, was in much demand in Europe and China. It was used in furniture and perfumes. Thus, Kamehameha eventually turned from military warrior to tradesman. Sandalwood was responsible for most of his worth.

Also plentiful were Hawaiian women’s favors in exchange for items commonly found on ships – clothing, mirrors, scissors, and nails. Since lovemaking was liberal on the Hawaiian Islands, the fact that profits could be made with it was just a bonus for the fathers of these Hawaiian beauties. Being savvy, Kamehameha levied a tax on the love-making trade for the ships’ captains. He also enacted the hugger-mugger rule. A cannon was fired at sunset to designate the beginning of the nighttime’s revelry. Another cannon was fired at sunrise to end the revelry.

In 1809, Archibald Campbell met King Kamehameha the Great and wrote about it in his book, A Voyage Around the World. “In 1809, the Great King seemed a man of 50 years. He is a stout, well-made man, darker in complexion than the other natives and is in want of his two front teeth. He is mild and affable in his manners and possesses a great warmth of feeling. Although a conqueror, he is loved by his subjects as he has supreme power and has brought prosperity and repose to them.”

During this time of peace, the king and his favorite bride, Kaahumanu, continued to surf the short, the high, the low, and the strenuous waves of Waikiki as if still in their youth. Kamehameha added more brides to his kingdom. Though not as bright as Kaahumanu, they were slimmer and beautiful, and they gave him sons, including King Kamehameha IV and V. He continued to give Hawaii children well into his 60s.When he died in 1819, at 69, he had just welcomed his last child, Ka-papa, daughter of Manono.

Taking on an illness that stayed with him for more than a month, Kamehameha called for his favorite wife, Kaahumanu , and son, Liholiho, to give them advice of being temperate with the haoles’ fire water, one glass no more, he was said to have counseled them. Liholiho had been designated as his successor, Kamehameha II.

It was common during this time for people to be sacrificed for the Chief. When news spread of Kamehameha’s illness, people began leaving the area quickly. However, Kamehameha said, no, there would be no sacrifices on his behalf. He had lived a long life and it was his time. As the Alii and family gathered around and worked out the necessary work of a monarch, they asked for final words. He stated: “I have given you the greatest good – peace. And a kingdom which is all one – a kingdom of all the islands. Pau.” (Pau is Hawaiian for that is all, finished.) On May 8, 1819, the comet passed.

Cite: The Warrior King: Hawaii’s Kamehameha, the Great by Richard Tregaskis


Posted in Hawaii & South Pacific

Kamehameha the Great and Alii kisses

In 1785, Kamehameha the Great married his favorite wife, daughter of Keeaumoku, Kaahumanu stood 6-foot tall and was 17 years old. They were married at Kawaihae among wedding games of surfing, swimming, ti-leaf slide, hula dancing, and the Alii kissing game. In the culture of the day, women did not eat in the presence of the men, as that was considered kapu. Also, they did not eat pork, coconut, or bananas, which were considered masculine delights.

Eventually, Kamehameha and Kaahumanu slipped away to their fragrant bed of sandalwood leaves, covered with a spotless blanket of white and red tapa. Following, they went to Kamehameha’s northern farm in Kohala, where taro and sweet potatoes were grown, and where Kamehameha started making plans for other battles.

Seven years after Captain Cook’s original travels to the Hawaiian Islands, other European ships arrived. All had cannons and flint rock rifles, Kamehameha was pleased. Within the seven years since Captain Cook’s time in Hawaii, the Hawaiians no longer saw the white man as gods, but only haoles, white mortals. Thus the trading began, pork and stout for iron. The cost was 2 gallons of drinking water for one 6-penny nail. (I wonder what these people would think about our current payment of $1 for 16 ounces of water today.) Within two years, and with the help of his wife’s lover, Kaina, Kamehameha had his first cannon and several muskets, which the British called Brown Betties. What followed were years of fighting in the islands that are documented in many places. Here is one blog that may interest you:

 Cite: The Warrior King: Hawaii’s Kamehameha, the Great by Richard Tregaskis


Posted in Hawaii & South Pacific

Kamehameha Meets Captain Cook

While the young United States of America was fighting for its independence from Great Britain, Kamehameha the Great and other warriors moved their battle from the island of Maui to the island of Lanai. There they had their food and water supplies cut off by the local chiefs, and were reduced to eating the root of the wild kupala plant. Because of these conditions, they named the battle of Lani, Ka-moku-hi, the battle of the Loose Bowels. Finishing on Lanai as quickly as possible under the conditions, they returned to Maui and to fresh water and fresh foods to recover.

During this same time period, Captain Cook was leaving Christmas Island and making his first contacts with Oahu, Kauai, and Maui islands. In his journal on November 26, 1778, he wrote about meeting the natives, “We exchanged nails and bits of iron with the Sandwich Island natives for cuttlefish, breadfruit, taro, sweet potatoes, and pigs.” (Cook named it Sandwich Islands in honor of the Earl of Sandwich, his patron for the trip.) On November 30, 1778, they met Kamehameha the Great, but tried to Anglo-size his name, so it came out as Maihamaiha. Cook wrote, “As a savage looking face as I ever saw, it however by no means seemed an emblem of his disposition, which was good natured and humorous, although his manner showed somewhat of an overbearing spirit.”

 When Captain Cook traveled to the Big Island that he pronounced Owyhee, he was amazed at how high mountains where there. Mountain peaks were covered with snow, and a lot of the island had been “laid to waste by a volcano.” As has been well written, Captain Cook and his men wore out their welcome in Hawaii and were killed when the natives believed him to be a god who was never happy with the gifts they brought him, always wanting more. This is a story that has already been told in this blog, so we’ll move on.

Kamehameha was just a curious about Captain Cook and the white men on the H.S.S. Resolution. He climbed on board and was startled by Captain Cook’s blue eyes. He never saw eyes the color of the sea before. He soon became very curious about the white man’s guns and cannons, so curious that he would adapt these ways in his future Hawaiian battles. Through his liberal attitude toward Europeans with miraculous knowledge of ships, weapons, and technologies, he was the first to seek out and make friends with Europeans and Americans who could show him the way.

 Cite: The Warrior King: Hawaii’s Kamehameha, the Great by Richard Tregaskis