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Guardian of the Sea

Guardian of the Sea: Jizo in Hawaii

Copyright Date: 2007
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    Guardian of the Sea
    Book Description:

    Jizo, one of the most beloved Buddhist deities in Japan, is known primarily as the guardian of children and travelers. In coastal areas, fishermen and swimmers also look to him for protection. Soon after their arrival in the late 1800s, issei (first-generation Japanese) shoreline fishermen began casting for ulua on Hawai'i's treacherous sea cliffs, where they risked being swept off the rocky ledges. In response to numerous drownings, Jizo statues were erected near dangerous fishing and swimming sites, including popular Bamboo Ridge, near the Blowhole in Hawai'i Kai; Kawaihapai Bay in Mokule'ia; and Kawailoa Beach in Hale'iwa. Guardian of the Sea tells the story of a compassionate group of men who raised these statues as a service to their communities.

    Written by an authority on Hawai'i's beaches and water safety, Guardian of the Sea shines a light on a little-known facet of Hawai'i's past. It incorporates valuable firsthand accounts taken from interviews with nisei (second-generation) fishermen and residents and articles from Japanese language newspapers dating as far back as the early 1900s. In addition to background information on Jizo as a guardian deity and historical details on Jizo statues in Hawai'i, the author discusses shorecasting techniques and organizations, which once played a key role in the lives of local Japanese. Although shorecasting today is done more for sport than subsistence, it remains an important ocean activity in the Islands.

    In examining Jizo and the lives of issei, Guardian of the Sea makes a significant contribution to our understanding of recent Hawai'i history.

    eISBN: 978-0-8248-6006-6
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. xiii-xx)

    IN 1970 I BECAME a lifeguard with the City and County of Honolulu. During my two-year career with the lifeguard service, I was stationed at Sandy Beach, where my partner Daryl Picadura and I made many rescues, pulling visitors, military personnel, and local residents out of Sandy’s pounding shorebreak. In the spring of 1972 I decided to write a beach guide for the island of O‘ahu that would list every beach on the island and identify its dangers, physical characteristics, recreational uses, and value as a historic and cultural site. When I joined the Honolulu Fire Department in the summer...

  5. Prologue
    (pp. 1-3)

    WHEN THECity of Honoluludocked in Honolulu Harbor on February 8, 1885, the ship was carrying 944 Japanese men, women, and children. They were the first government contract laborers from Japan, the beginning of a wave of immigrants that between 1885 and 1924 brought tens of thousands of Japanese to Hawai‘i, most of them to work on the sugar plantations. Their story is told in many books, and one of the best isA Pictorial History of the Japanese in Hawai‘i 1885–1924.Edited by Franklin Odo and Kazuko Sinoto and published by the Bishop Museum Press in 1985,...

  6. CHAPTER ONE Casting for Ulua
    (pp. 4-12)

    WHEN THE JAPANESE came to Hawai‘i in 1885, they were an island people coming from one group of Pacific islands to another. The ocean was an intrinsic part of their culture. Many of them had strong ties to the sea, especially as fishermen, and within a few years of their arrival they were fishing on the shores of every island. Many of them had been commercial fishermen in Japan, and when their contracts with the plantations expired, they turned to the sea to make a living. The boatbuilders among them madegomai,or sampans—specially designed boats that Japanese fishermen...

  7. CHAPTER TWO Stores, Clubs, and Tournaments
    (pp. 13-18)

    WHEN THE ISSEI FIRST arrived in Hawai‘i, they lived in plantation villages, or camps. Isolated from mainstream society, they continued to speak Japanese, perpetuating their culture and traditions. After 1900 Japanese women began arriving in substantial numbers, many of them “picture brides”—women who had found husbands in Hawai‘i through an exchange of photographs. As the issei married and had children who were American citizens by birthright, they developed a strong sense of community. They built Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines; they established Japanese-language newspapers; and they developed Japanese-language schools for their children, the nisei, so the second generation would...

  8. CHAPTER THREE Jizo the Protector
    (pp. 19-56)

    THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS are among the most isolated islands in the world. With North America, the nearest continental land mass, some 2,500 miles away, this geographical anomaly means that high surf strikes the islands from every direction of the compass all year long. Waves 20 feet high commonly pound the north shores of the Hawaiian Islands every winter, while waves 10 feet high routinely strike the south shores during the summer. These are the waves that have made Hawai‘i famous as an international surfing destination, but they are also the waves that have had a devastating impact on shoreline fishermen....

  9. CHAPTER FOUR Jizo on the North Shore
    (pp. 57-89)

    WHEN THE ISSEI ARRIVED in Hawai‘i, many of them were assigned to one of seven plantations on O‘ahu, including the Waialua Agriculture Company on the North Shore. Established in 1898 by Castle and Cooke, the plantation was named for one of seven large districts, ormoku,that make up the island of O‘ahu. On the shore, the district of Waialua begins at Waimea Point and ends at Ka‘ena Point. In traditional Hawaiian geography,mokuwere further divided into smaller sections calledahupua‘a—tracts of land that often extended from the top of the mountains to the ocean. In the district...

  10. CHAPTER FIVE Warning Signs
    (pp. 90-106)

    SOME OF THE BESTuluafishing on O‘ahu occurs along the Koko Head sea cliffs between Kawaihoa Point and Halona Point. Issei shorecasters discovered the eastern O‘ahu sea cliffs in the 1920s when they saw Hawaiians fishing there. Hawaiians call their style ofuluafishingkaula‘au,or “setting [a] pole.” In 2004, Charles Langlas from the University of Hawaii–Hilo produced a video documentary onkaula‘au,noting that a few Hawaiians still practice that style today in Puna on the Big Island and in Hana on Maui. As the issei learned how and where Hawaiians fished forulua,they applied...

  11. CHAPTER SIX Jizo on the South Shore
    (pp. 107-126)

    FOLLOWING ZENSAKU UCHIBORI’S funeral service, the members of the Honolulu Japanese Casting Club met to discuss his death. They agreed that something more was needed on the sea cliffs at Koko Head—something more powerful than the wooden, obelisk-shaped warning signs. They knew that in Japan statues of Jizo are common on roadsides, at crossroads, in high mountain passes, and at the entrance to graveyards. In certain places in Japan, statues of Jizo are found on beaches and rocky shores, where, in addition to his other responsibilities, Jizo protects people from accidents on the shore and in the ocean. They...

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN Pilgrimages
    (pp. 127-151)

    PILGRIMAGES TO HOLY SITES are an important part of Buddhist tradition. After the death of the Buddha in the sixth century BC, his followers began visiting the places associated with his life, establishing the pilgrimage as a Buddhist practice. Historians believe that Buddhist priests who studied in China introduced the practice of pilgrimage to Japan in the middle of the Heian period (A.D. 794–1192), where it was firmly established.

    When the issei immigrated to Hawai‘i, they brought the tradition of the Buddhist pilgrimage with them, so pilgrimages to spiritual destinations have been a practice in the Islands for over...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT Drownings in Hawai‘i
    (pp. 152-166)

    DURING THE SUMMER of 2004, I went to the public library in downtown Honolulu to look for newspaper articles about drowning deaths of fishermen in Hawai‘i. As I read through the newspaper index for 1967, I found a listing for an article on the high number of drownings that had occurred in the first seven months of 1967. I decided to read the story to see if it mentioned any fishing incidents.

    The article listed the names of thirty victims and the circumstances of their deaths. When I reached number 22, I stopped abruptly. The name was Ralph Heywood—my...

  14. Epilogue
    (pp. 167-170)

    I HAVE LIVED IN THE HAWAIIAN ISLANDS all my life, but my journey to find Jizo in Hawai‘i took me to places I had never seen and introduced me to people I would otherwise never have met. As I learned more about Japanese culture and Buddhism, my travels took some interesting turns. One of the most unusual of these happened on Sunday, April 10, 2005, when photographer Mike Waggoner and I flew to Hilo for a circle-island tour with Harry Yamanaka, a retired school principal, and Fred Soriano, a sociology professor at Hawai‘i Community College. I was interested in the...

  15. Timeline of Events
    (pp. 171-176)
  16. References
    (pp. 177-186)
  17. Index
    (pp. 187-192)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 193-197)