Taka’s Wailua ghost story

Sometime during 1930, Juliet Rice Wichman of Wailua, Kauai was told a ghost story by her friend — a Japanese rice farmer she only identified by name as Taka — who’d been living for about three years with his family in a cottage nestled among hau trees by the fork of the Wailua River.

What follows is a condensed version of Mrs. Wichman’s original recording of Taka’s story.

On Christmas Eve 1927, Taka was awakened at home by the sounds of drums and singing further up the valley, and believing some Hawaiians must be having a party, for the music and voices were distinctly Hawaiian, he set out with a lantern along a trail to see what it was all about.

In a meadow, he saw a group of older women seated on the ground beating drums and calabashes and singing in unison, while a group of beautiful young women, dressed in ti-leaf skirts, with green leis around their necks, danced the hula.

Taka advanced no further, but watched from among guava and hau bushes, until suddenly, like a passing mist, the gay throng faded from sight.

A year later, at about 2 o’clock a.m. on Christmas Day 1928, he heard the splash of paddles in the river and the swish of water outside his cottage, and peering out, he saw a strange white canoe passing, and watched this strange white craft disappear around the bend of the river on its journey upstream.

Soon after, he heard the sounds of drums and singing far in the distance and walked to the meadow, where he once again observed the old scene – the dancing and the women, and heard the drums and calabashes beating out the time, and the chorus of singing.

Then the whole pageant misted away into nothingness as it had done formerly.

On Christmas Eve 1929, he again enjoyed the same pageant in the meadow, and heard the splash of paddles in the river and the swish of water outside his cottage, but he had no sight of the strange white canoe passing upriver.

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