On Thursday, March 6th, 2003, our class took a trip to the Japanese Cultural Center. We went to learn about plantation life in Hawaii and immigration. We came back with much more information than we expected.
When we got to the center, we met our docent, Kathy Kiyabu. She brought us to the section of immigration and plantation. First, we stopped at an area where there were twelve rock pillars with Japanese characters carved in them. Mrs. Kiyabu told us that they were some important values of the Japanese. The values were sacrifice, sense of duty, honor, shame/pride, responsibility, loyalty, gratitude, acceptance with resignation, perseverance, quiet endurance, debt of gratitude, and filial piety (devotion to parents). On our left, there was a sign that said "Okage Sama De." That was the theme of the museum. It means "I am what I am because of you."
Our class standing with our docent, Kathy Kiyabu.
Then Mrs. Kiyabu took us around the corner to a wall with a drawing on it of immigrants on a ship. The floor was made with planks, as if to be on the deck of a ship. There we started talking about immigration. The Japanese immigrants came to Hawaii because the economic conditions in Japan were very poor. They came hoping for a better life and living condition. They also would get more money. If they stayed in Japan, they would get 10 yen a year, and if they came to Hawaii, they would get 212 yen a year. They would earn the money, and then send it back to their families.
A sample of a contract to work on the plantation.
When the families moved to Hawaii, they couldn't bring much, only enough to fit in a basket. In a plantation, they would get $15 a year. If they signed a contract to work on the plantations, they would have to work for 3 years. They would have to work from 6:30 A.M. to 12:00 P.M., with one 30 minute lunch break. Most of the Japanese came from the area around Hiroshima.
Next, we went into a room that talked about plantation life. We heard a song playing called "Hori Hori Bushi." It was a sad song because they sang of the hard times in the plantation fields. In this room, there was a picture of a luna, or supervisor, on a horse. Above the picture, you saw a whip that the lunas used. That showed how hard the lunas were on the workers. Also, there were pictures of mill workers who worked two hours longer than plantation workers and earned the same amount of money. In a case on the right was a display of "bangos," which were the identification of the workers. The bangos were a piece of metal which would be on a necklace that the workers had to wear. It was discouraging because they were called by their numbers, and not their names.
We learned more about plantation life in this room. Their food was mainly a diet of vegetables and they ate a lot of rice. The workers covered themselves in protective clothing to help prevent sunburn, bugs, like centipedes, from getting on their legs, and getting cut by the sharp sugar cane. They would wear a straw hat, jacket, scarf, arm guards, leggings and slit toed socks.
A bento box that the plantation workers would eat from. They ate a lot of rice.
Next, we talked about picture brides. Single men would get a picture of a wife that they would marry. The wife would have a picture of her future husband. They would be on a pier and look for a face, within many people, that looked like that picture. Sometimes, the person would be much older than the picture.
After, we went to a replica of a room that had items in it that you might find in a plantation house. There were old sewing machines, homemade games, an ice box, old lamps, and a desk on the floor since the Japanese did most of their things on the floor, sleep, eat, etc. Then we went through an area where there were scenes of some stores that the workers might have started. They had little school rooms, grocery stores, barber shops, and small churches. We then made our way through the other half of the museum to get to the exit.
Outside, we went into a room after we removed our shoes. This was where we met Mrs. Yoshimoto and Mrs. Shimamoto. They did the presentation of the discovery box section of our trip. We reviewed our knowledge of what we had learned in the museum.
Our class displaying our artifacts.
Then, we tested our archeology skills. We were assigned groups of five people to an artifact. There was a recorder, reporter, peacemaker, and timer. We had a sheet of paper that had questions on it so we could record our observations. My group's artifact was a dried fish shredder. We thought it was a cheese grater. The other groups had washboards, an old iron, and an ice shaver.
After our information-filled trip, we had lunch, and returned to school. What a great field trip!
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