Eight generations later, things are different
A recent article in The Garden Island commemorated the 150th anniversary of the arrival of Japanese immigrants. What has happened in the eight generations since their landing?
I belong to a collection of “seasoned” curmudgeons that meets weekly to engage in spirited dialogue about everything and nothing. For several years running, this “Thirsty Thursday” crew has undertaken the mindless task of counting Japanese surnames of graduating high school seniors on Kauai, as published. Each such surname counts as one, with hyphenated ones counting as one-half.
Disregarded are whether the senior looks Japanese, or our collective knowledge of their lineage. Only surnames. We started doing this because our fading memories of our own high school days indicated the Japanese had ethnic plurality, and we wanted to see what has changed in the three generations since we were in high school.
One of our members graduated from Waimea in 1963. His class graduated 170 seniors. He reports that 80 of them were “pure Japanese” and five more had Japanese surnames. A full 50 percent of his class. Compare that to this year’s findings. Kapaa: 15.5 out of 242; Kauai: 25 out of 239; Waimea: 9 out of 120; Island: 1 out of 34. Total 50.5 out of 639, or 7.9 percent.
Like other topics we discuss, we observe that things are different now. Neither better, nor worse, just different. So we drink another beer.
Nolan Ahn, Lihue