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On Walkabout At: The Waimea Japanese & Chinese Cemeteries

Basic Information

Picture from Western Kauai

Narrative

While driving along the Kaumualii Highway I happened to notice a sign for the Waimea Japanese Cemetery which is located right before entering the Western most town in the United States, Kekaha:

The cemetery ended up being much bigger than I expected as graves were located in Asian style very close to one another and the cemetery stretched out all the way to the beach:

Picture from Western Kauai

Most of the graves were fairly modest markers with a few just being a cross or very small headstone:

Picture from Western Kauai

As I walked through the Japanese Cemetery I noticed that right next to it was the Park Hook Tong Chinese Cemetery with a marker stating that it was established in 1890 and it appears to have reached its capacity in 1989:

Picture from Western Kauai

However, after doing some research on the cemetery this document from the Kauai Chinese Heritage Society says that the Park Hook Tong Chinese Cemetery was established in 1896 as burial place for Chinese laborers who worked in the area’s various plantations.  The land for the cemetery was made available by the missionary descendant and plantation owner Valdemar Knudsen who was also the agent of the Hawaiian monarchy in the area. Today the Kauai Chinese Heritage Society is responsible for maintaining the cemetery.

Many of the burials in the Chinese Cemetery were designated with simple stone markers, which led me to believe this was where the poor plantation laborers were buried:

Picture from Western Kauai

However, there were a few really nice markers in the cemetery to include a nearby gazebo which probably shows that the descendants of these early laborers went on to accumulate enough wealth to afford such large markers:

Picture from Western Kauai

Conclusion

There is really not much of interest to see at either cemetery, but this is the first cemetery I have been to that is literally located right on the beach.  I also found out that the locals in Kekaha have a sense of humor about the place.  They like to say that because of the beautiful ocean view, people are dying to get in.  I don’t know about that, but I do agree that Waimea Japanese and Chinese cemeteries do have a heck of an ocean view for someone’s final resting place.

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