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Sugar town past on Oahu.

TO WALK THROUGH HAWAII'S Plantation Village is to step back 50 to 100 years, to when growing sugar was Hawaii's main business and thousands of plantation workers lived in ethnic camps. This 3-acre village, part of the 50-acre nonprofit Waipahu Cultural Garden Park, winds along a hillside below the Oahu Sugar Company mill (one of only two sugar companies left on Oahu) overlooking the town of Waipahu, 20 miles from Waikiki.

Here, you'll find examples of the houses, gardens, and community buildings of contract laborers brought to work the sugar plantations between 1852 and 1946. Two historic jewels are the restored 1914 red-painted Japanese Wakamiya Inari Shinto Shrine and a restored Chinese cookhouse from about 1912. The green-and-red-veranda-wrapped Chinese fraternal society clubhouse next to them is a copy of one on Maui.

The remaining 27 structures are mostly airy, single-wall boxes with sloping roofs and porches, built from old blueprints or measured drawings of buildings on other islands. Houses range from late 19th- to early 20th-century whitewashed board-and-batten cottages with separate kitchens, baths, and toilet houses, to tongue-and-groove dwellings with all facilities inside. Authentic furnishings, from beds to kitchenware to objects of art and worship, were donated by descendants of workers who once toiled in the fields 12 hours a day.

The village includes Chinese and Filipino dormitories; a Filipino chicken coop; a Japanese duplex, sumo ring, tofu shed, saimin stand, and community furo; and a Portuguese oven. Single-family homes of these groups--as well as of Puerto Ricans, Koreans, Okinawans, and Hawaiians--include a re-created 1840s Hawaiian thatched house. Also on display are buildings such as a company office and store, barber shop, and a union and social hall.

To learn the most on your visit, take the hour-long tour given by volunteer docents; most grew up on plantations. Tours start on the hour (from 9 to 3) in the park's museum, where photographs and artifacts of sugar industry history are on display.


The village and surrounding park (suitable for picnics) are open from 9 to 3 Mondays through Saturdays. Donations ($5, $3 for seniors and ages 5 through 17) are suggested.

The park entrance is at 94-695 Waipahu Street. From Honolulu, take the H-1 freeway past the H-2 cutoff to the Waikele-Waipahu exit. Turn left at the exit's end, then right at the first light onto Waipahu Street.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Bannick, Nancy
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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