Tag Archives: pacific islander

Valley of Manoa

--Informant Info--
Nationality:
Age:
Occupation:
Residence:
Date of Performance/Collection:
Primary Language:
Other Language(s):

Main Piece:

The following is transcribed from a conversation between the interviewer and the informant.

Informant: In Oahu, there’s the valley of Manoa, which now is like a famous hiking trail. The story is that Hine, the wind of Manoa, married Kani, the rain of Manoa. Together they had their daughter, Kaha- she descended from the very rain and wind of Manoa, she’s beautiful and ethereal, and everything. So, Kaha’s promised to marry the prince of the sea, Kauhi. She spends her time secluded from everyone else, up in the air, looking down on the valley of Manoa. One time she saw the chiefs of the villagers of Manoa, and decided to step down from the clouds. She fell in love with him. She stepped down and she was turned into a human being. She wasn’t sad because she always envied the people of Hawaii and Manoa Valley. She married the chief, and made family at the valley. But she knew that Kauhi would be eager to get her back, so she had to stay away from the sea to be safe. One day, she for some reason decided to go out for a swim because it was such a beautiful day. To get her back, Kauhi had turned into a shark and tried to bring her to the ocean. But she had turned into a mortal, so the shark accidentally killed her. After he realized what he did, Kauhi brought her body back to the shore. Her body was buried in the valley where she loved her people. To mourn her, her parents, the wind and the rain, will cry for her even till this day. And that’s why the Manoa Valley gets so much rain and wind.

Interviewer: Where did you hear this story at first?

Informant: My grandpa would just have these stories, he’d tell it to me and my siblings anytime we visited the islands. But when I went to Manoa Valley, there was actually a little sign there at the entrance that described this very story, so I guess it’s a pretty common tale.

Background:

The informant is a 20 year old USC student. She is of caucasian and Japanese descent. Her father’s side of the family is Japanese, and third generation Hawaiian immigrants. The first wave of Japanese immigrants into the islands of Hawaii started in the late 1800s, but the U.S. annexation of the islands sped up the process of this movement. At their peak in 1920s, the population percentage of Japanese in Hawaii was around 45%. According to my informant, the culture that her family grew up in was a mixture of indigenous Hawaiian and Japanese.

Context:

The conversation took place over a Zoom call. The informant was alone at her room, at her family house in Irvine, California. It was a comfortable environment.

My thoughts:

Any culture, around the world, will have a piece of myth that tries to explain natural phenomenons. The Valley of Manoa is especially known for its unpredictable rain and wind that come in waves, and this piece of myth was a very justifiable and poetic way of describing this phenomenon.

The Peach Boy in Hawaii

--Informant Info--
Nationality: American
Age: 21
Occupation: Actor, Writer
Residence: Kailua, Honolulu County, Hawaii
Date of Performance/Collection: 3/26/19
Primary Language: English
Other Language(s):

Main Piece

Informant: “A story that I heard a lot growing up was about this boy who was born from a peach. They called him Momotarō. He was considered a blessing to this older couple, who had not been able to have kids, but had always acted humble and hardworking. They got the child as if they were being rewarded, and it’s explained that the Gods sent him to be their son.”

Collector: “That reminds me of a lot of stories, especially religious ones, too.”

Informant: “Yeah, that premise isn’t the most unique, but the peach makes it memorable. He grows up and then decides to leave and go fight some Oni, which are a type of demon. He has some animals that help him on the way, and I think one of them is a duck….Yeah. There are a dog, a monkey, and a duck. They stop the demons and then get to take their treasure.”

Collector: “Who told you this story?”

Informant: “My mom would tell me it, but I think most people in Hawaii know it. It’s Japanese, but there are books and a lot of stuff for kids based on it.”

Analysis

The story of Momotarō seems very easy to compare to a lot of other stories in Western culture, be it Superman or Moses. The popularity of it seems easy to comprehend, given the good values and morals that it is supposed to set forward for young children. The fact that the informant learned this story growing up in Hawaii exhibits how strongly connected those two geographical places are, and how the culture of Japan affects the state to this very day. It fascinated me that the  work generally is told the same in Hawaii, and that not many oicotypes were known to the informant. It can be assumed that the printed version of this book that popularized in the 1970s for the Bank of Hawaii’s 75th anniversary played a large part in the spread of this story in the same variation. The authored Momotaro: Peach Boy declares itself  an “Island Heritage book” that promotes its impact on Hawaiian culture.