Tsuyuko Hironaka and Other Visitors
In the 1880s a few hundred Japanese came to Kauai in search of work and ended up working in sugar plantations. Clearly families developed and stayed. I photo’d one gravestone in the Japanese Cemetery at Eleele, that of Tsuyuko Hironaka, 1916 to 1935, who was only 19 when he died. I wondered if this young man ever visited Japan and what happened to him. It did not even have a precise Date of Birth on his tombstone.
In the 1920’s Kauai was a really long way from anywhere and a far cry from todays vacation destination of choice.
Not far away you can visit the Russian Fort at Elizabeth State Historical Park set up to facilitate trading, over 200 years ago by Russians. Again, for many this really was a one way trip and whilst an idyllic island it was an awful long way from home.
Kauai is a dramatically beautiful island so I spent most of the time exploring the byways, coastline, wildlife, a bit of running and hiking . I did however come across several places which told stories about some of the inhabitants in earlier times and provides a fascinating insight into life before it became a US State (1959) and before it was just a US Protectorate created in 1894.
Today, nearby you can see US Military Installations guarding America’s Pacific frontier. (NB Shortly after our visit in January 2018 there was a false alert that set off the Emergency Alert System warning of an incoming ballistic missle causing widespread panic and alarm for a terrifying 38 minutes). Staffed by more connected modern day settlers.
Without trying too hard, and by accident, I came across some really different, fascinating, birds and mammals up, remarkably, close
- Monk Seal – whilst on a morning jog I came across an exhausted Monk Seal, behind an orange tape, guarded by local retirees so that (both?) could nap undisturbed. Turns out Monk Seals are pretty rare and an Endangered Species. Later that day whilst swimming my daughter leapt out the water as another exhausted large Monk Seal tried to slide ashore on to the beach and slid within inches of us – they do seem large but docile!
- Red Tail Birds that (sort of ) fly backwards. Got to see a lot near Kilauea Lighthouse
- Night time Shearwaters nesting right under your feet!
- And of course the Turtles! Again a night time marvel
Apart from the beaches the best outdoors hiking is most certainly in Na Pali State Park where I spent several days and despite it being a holiday island, once a few yards away from the roads (which were not busy anyway) you see few other humans, so do hike prepared. The coastal views are world famous and hikes down towards the coast give memorable vistas.
Pack Hiking Boots – along with Swimming Gear!
A lovely, not inexpensive destination, where you do get the feel you are on the edge of America!
Get out and explore!