The Kurasakis’ family home and barbershop. (Photo from Kaua‘i Historical Society Collection)
The Kurasakis’ family home and barbershop. (Photo from Kaua‘i Historical Society Collection)
With eight surviving children, Hide and Aijurö Kurasaki’s family grew bigger as their children married and started their own families, as seen in this 1960s family portrait.
With eight surviving children, Hide and Aijurö Kurasaki’s family grew bigger as their children married and started their own families, as seen in this 1960s family portrait.

House in Kapa‘a Has Been Home to Four Generations of the Kurasaki Family

Carolyn Morinishi
Special to The Hawai‘i Herald

“Long periods of suffering have left their imprint on her face and posture, but her spirit and faith have remained strong and undaunted through the years.” — Isami Kurasaki writing about his mother, Hide Kurasaki

My Uncle Isami wrote this in a 1961 essay about his mother — my grandmother — Hide Kurasaki. In that one sentence, he perfectly summed up her life of hardship and resilience. Like many women of her generation, Hide-Obaachan worked tirelessly to bring her family out of extreme poverty and give them a better life.

Hide Kurasaki at the beach in Kapa‘a (circa 1950s). Hide loved the sound of the ocean; fortunately, she found a property across the street from the beach. (Photos courtesy Carolyn Morinishi)
Hide Kurasaki at the beach in Kapa‘a (circa 1950s). Hide loved the sound of the ocean; fortunately, she found a property across the street from the beach. (Photos courtesy Carolyn Morinishi)

THE EARLY YEARS

My obaachan (grandmother, lovingly) arrived in Hawai‘i in 1910, the picture bride of my ojiichan (grandfather), Aijurö Kurasaki, who had immigrated to Hawai‘i in 1905. Both were from the poor farming village of Marifu-cho, Iwakuni, in Yamaguchi Prefecture. Both had only meager educations — Ojiichan only attended school until the fourth grade; Obaachan only finished first grade. Both were forced to quit school and help out on their family farms.

Once in Hawai‘i, they both worked in the fields for Makee Sugar Co., living in a Japanese plantation camp in the Kapahi area of Kapa‘a. Their first baby, a boy, died at birth from complications. In the next two years, Obaachan and Ojiichan had another son, Masao, and a daughter, Kinuko. Obaachan strapped the babies to her back as she worked in the cane fields. When they were “older” — toddlers, actually — she would leave them on a blanket in the fields. Aunty Kinuko said she and Masao never strayed from the blanket, waiting patiently for Obaachan’s “pau hana” time.

After moving to nearby “35 Camp,” Obaachan had another daughter.

Even as a young wife, Obaachan could see that there was no future in plantation work. Unlike most of the young women she worked with, who longed to return to Japan, Obaachan knew she could never return to her homeland. Her family in Japan was extremely poor, so poor that her father had told her, “You go to Hawai‘i, get married, work and STAY there.” So, she persevered through the hardships and resolved that she would one day purchase some land and get her family off the plantation.

Obaachan saved their money meticulously. By 1918, she had accumulated enough to buy a house along the main highway in Kapa‘a. Obaachan was happy that her home was across the street from the beach because the ocean had always been a source of comfort to her.

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Carolyn Kubota Morinishi is a multitalented woman. She and her mom, Marian Kurasaki Kubota, have been Hawai‘i Herald columnists for more than a decade —
researching, writing and designing their monthly “Culture4Kids!” column, which spotlights various aspects of Japanese culture. Carolyn earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in computer science and math (bachelor’s) from the University of Southern California. She has been teaching classical Japanese dance since 1998 and currently teaches classes on Kaua‘i and in Los Angeles. She also holds a teaching degree from the Edo Senke School of Tea Ceremony. She and her husband Ron are the parents of three grown children.

Memories of her father singing, “Arya saa korya . . .” from the yagura (musicians’ platform) flashed back as Marian danced “Iwakuni Ondo” at the Kapaa Hongwanji bon dance.
Memories of her father singing, “Arya saa korya
. . .” from the yagura (musicians’ platform) flashed back as Marian danced “Iwakuni Ondo” at the Kapaa Hongwanji bon dance.
Hide and Aijurö cut their 50th anniversary wedding cake (circa 1960).
Hide and Aijurö cut their 50th anniversary wedding cake (circa 1960).
Hide and Aijurö Kurasaki at daughter Marian’s graduation from the University of Hawai‘i in 1955.
Hide and Aijurö Kurasaki at daughter Marian’s graduation from the University of Hawai‘i in 1955.
The concrete sink from the old furo house still works!
The concrete sink from the old furo house still works!

1 COMMENT

  1. I would like to have a copy of your Hawaii Herald, November 12, 2017 isssue, volume 38, No. 22. Can you tell me where or how can I purchase the paper?
    Thank you very much!

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