Kauai Journalist Matsuo ‘Sidelines’ Kuraoka

Born at Hanamaulu, Kauai, Matsuo “Sidelines” Kuraoka (1916-1973) was a special assignment reporter, photographer and columnist with The Garden Island newspaper for 26 years, from 1947 to 1973, as well as a 40-year employee of Lihue Plantation Co., first as a warehouseman, beginning in 1933, and later with the plantation’s Industrial Engineering Department.

Kuraoka started with The Garden Island by covering sporting events from the sidelines of football fields, basketball courts, tennis courts and other playing areas, and after titling his newspaper column “From The Sidelines” accordingly, was thereafter popularly known by his nickname, Sidelines.

Over the years, Sidelines also interviewed and photographed numerous celebrities visiting Kauai.

In her eulogy of Sidelines, editor Jean Holmes wrote: “He was completely unimpressed by ‘importance’ and could shock the ‘protocol minded’ by dashing up to pin an orchid on the Princess of Japan, but he never forgot the ‘little guy’ and would take great pains to see that his baby luau or retirement pictures were taken and printed.

“If you left his pictures out of the paper longer than he thought right, you could depend on an irate phone call, so loudly indignant you had to hold the phone at arm’s length.

“But, he could always be depended on to take the ‘difficult’ picture, the one at the airport at 7 a.m., or he would patiently wait through a ‘Miss Something’ pageant to get the winner, then develop the film and have it ‘on your typewriter’ ready for the next mornings’ edition.

“And he never failed to express appreciation of a picture well-displayed in the paper.

“Though he insisted he barely got through high school English, his clever, humorous captions made his column widely read and appreciated.

“Sidelines and I fought vigorously, yet liked and respected each other enormously.

“Holding a heavenly camera, he is doubtless telling God to move a bit closer to St. Peter, and the Angels to fold their wings and smile!”

Matsuo “Sidelines” Kuraoka and his wife, Kauai High School teacher Emiko Kuraoka, had two children: David and Amy.

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