Visiting Kapaʻau – Big Island Kohala District

Whenever we visited the Big Island, no trip was complete without a visit to Kapaʻau. It’s a town in the Kohala district of the Big Island

We still like driving up there and on the 24th we took a drive specifically to get to the Keokea Beach Park.  Why, you ask? Well, as a North-facing shoreline it gets pretty good waves and I was having wave-withdrawals. The actual waves from the park will merit their own post, complete with photos and videos (of course). This post is about stuff on the way there.  

So, set some time aside, grab a snack, and settle in because I have about 90 photos, links to stuff, and words. I won’t show all the photos in the post, but the originals are in THIS SmugMug Gallery, plus there’s a gallery at the end of the post with all the photos. As usual, you can click on any photo for a larger version to open in a new tab or window.

“What the heck?!” you ask.

Well, Bob, you have to bear with me a bit because I got me a phone I still consider new and in need of being put through its paces. Many, but not all, of the photos in this post are from the Note 8. And, here’s the thing . . . I added a frame and did very minor tweaks but otherwise present these as they came out of the phone. 

Bob, you’re gonna have to color me continually impressed by what the phone can do. Here, look at this . . . 

If you click for the larger version or go to the SmugMug gallery you will note something. Well, maybe not, but I did . . . the resolution on this photo is comparable to the P900 (at the same zoom). In fact, I’ll call it a bit better. 

Here are a few other shots that impressed me.

Taken with the second lens/camera (2x)

OK, OK . . . the North Kohala coast. Hawi (note, the “w” is pronounced as “v”) is a small town you could have practically bought about eight or nine years ago. I exaggerate a bit, but on our last visit — at the end of 2009 — the place was dead with a number of buildings boarded up, and that was at the height of the tourist season. 

That’s not the case now as the place is usually hopping. It’s mostly touristy places (restaurants and art galleries) but the town is also the turnaround place for the bicycle portion of the Ironman race. We seldom stop there anymore and so I have no photos . . . except for these.

Full disclosure: the above and a few more photos are from different visits to the area (April of this year).  

Anyway, on to Kapaʻau. 

There are as many churches in Hawaiʻi as there are people. Well, it seems like it to me, but that’s probably an exaggeration. However, I have been toying with the idea of going around the island and shoot as many churches as I can find. Perhaps I’ll put some effort toward that endeavor. 

Anyway, just to save time for them who are interested in such things, here’s the link on St. Augustine Episcopalian Church. And here are a few more photos (more in the gallery). 

Fearing I would be incinerated on the spot, Melisa dove and tackled me when I tried to enter the church. I finally convinced her I was safe by asking who exactly would do that? I mean, it’s not like there’s anyone up there watching. Besides, I survived walking around the Vatican and even visiting the Sistine Chapel; this was nothing to worry about.  

It’s a nice-looking church. Small and functional and not rife with excessive ornamentation meant to impress god members of the congregation. In case anyone is wondering, there was a sign welcoming people to enter. Also in case anyone is wondering, regardless of my feelings toward religious institutions, I’m always respectful toward the symbols. 

There’s a small cemetery right outside the church and some of the graves date a ways back . . . I presume one needed some sort of stature (or cash contributions) to merit space in such a small area.

Anyway, a nice little photographic opportunity. 

A bit further down the road, we come to the Kapaʻau Community Center and the statue of King Kamehameha that sits in silent vigil in front of it. 

As I drove up, I felt an immediate feeling of loss . . . one might want to review THIS post before continuing. As a reminder, here are a few photos (reprocessed) from that visit. 

Those are big trees . . . I had even placed an item to give a sense of scale . . . 

Do you see it? . . . it’s a quarter. 

Here are a couple of shots from earlier this year (a rainy day). 

Well, here are those trees now . . . 

Once again, I placed something in the photos to give it a sense of scale. 

Like I said, it was a shock . . . those trees were there in 1991 when we first visited the island. I photographed them in every subsequent visit to the island. I tried searching the local news for any hint as to why they had been cut down, but no mention of it I found. I know a few years ago, one had been damaged by high winds and they cut a big branch off (you can see it in the first photo). I’ll ask at a shop owner next time we’re up there. 

Regardless, the place doesn’t look the same without them. 

At least, the building is still there. 

As is the statue

The interesting thing about this version of the statue is the whiteness of the white of the eyes . . . makes him look like a Goa’uld which — as every SG-1 fan knows — had eyes that would flash much like the statue’s. 

. . . it would explain so much . . . 

Here’s what the statue has to look at all day and night. 

Well, not quite . . . he’s actually looking to the side, eyes fixed on the sea. You can read a bit more about the statue HERE.

The interesting thing is that they cut one of the trees down to the ground, but not the other. And — in fact — it looks like the tree is actively trying to come back (again, an object is included to give a sense of scale).

I imagine that in forty or fifty years I might see the old friend back to its former glory. I, of course, and if I’m still alive, will be no more than a piece of gristle wearing outdated clothes. 

The rocks are still there . . . still off limits (kapu).

Meaning no disrespect to the culture, the first rock has a face that looks a bit like E. T. right after he tasted broccoli. Perhaps I’m the only one that can see it. 

People might wonder about the purpose of the patterns on the rock faces . . . konane. That’s all that I will say about the feature, but it did give me the opportunity for some macro shots. 

Before leaving the place, I had the opportunity to shoot some flowers I don’t see often . . . because they are 58 miles away from the condo we’re renting. 

These opportunities don’t present themselves all that often and one needs to grab them when it happens. 

From here, we went on to Keokea Beach Park, but first . . . 

. . . a stop at the Kohala Hongwanji Mission Cemetery. We’d driven by this place many times but for various reasons, I’d never gotten more than a photo or two shot from the car. Not this time. This time, I got out.

So, here’s the thing . . . few people go to the SmugMug gallery but if you have a good internet connection, click HERE to get the full-size version of the above photo (11 MB). I mention it because the phone (yes, the Note 8 took this) resolves details well enough to read the marking on the graves, at least the ones angled so that you could read them. Not the far ones, obviously, but even then, the amount of detail impresses me, especially out of such a small lens. 

A few items of note . . . this was the most barren that I’d seen this little cemetery. During past visits, I’d seen flowers and a more upkept appearance than during this visit. The sign has also fallen into disrepair. 

Anyway, I walked out amongst the graves toting my D7000 with the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VR and the phone. Hard to tell which photos I prefer.

Here are some of the Nikon photos (more in the gallery) . . . 

These aren’t bad. A few of them are a tad softer than I like and not as tack-sharp as I’m accustomed to with this lens, but I’ve not shot the D7000 for a while, and I probably didn’t take the care with it that it deserves. 

Two things of note; the latest date I found was the above 2015 burial of Diana Yoshie who died 20 years after the previous internment at that site. But look at the last marker . . . the first person listed died at 78 but what gave me pause were the other listings and imagining what the parents went through . . . Yoshio, 1916 – 1-month-old; Shigeru, 1917 – two-month-old; Isao, 1918 – 1-month-old; Masami, 1925 – five years old. 

Let me tell you a bit more about the cemetery before I continue. Actually, there’s not much about the cemetery. I can tell you about Hongwanji which is the Romanized name of Hongan-ji (本願寺 Temple of the Primal Vow) which is the collective name of the largest school of Jōdo Shinshū Buddhism. (Wikipedia entry HERE.)

Side Note: the Wikipedia foundation is having their annual funding drive. I’ve already contributed and if you use Wikipedia, I would have you consider donating the equivalent of a cup of expensive coffee (or more). 

There is a WEB PAGE for the Kapaʻau Honwanji Buddhist Temple and it gives a timeline for the mission but not much information on the cemetery. THIS link has information about all their missions on the Hawaiʻian islands and it mentions various sites on the Big Island.

I did a number of searched trying different search terms, but the only mention — other than on tourist sites — of the cemetery was in THIS book about the Kona earthquake of August 21, 1951. Page 281 mentions the graves and headstones of this cemetery being damaged; the cemetery is 0.6 miles south of the faultline.  A number of other cemeteries suffered similar damage. 

How are you doing? Need a bathroom break or just skimming? Just in case, here’s a musical interlude giving you plenty of time to “take care of business.”

If you have feelings, wipe your tears and let’s go on . . . 

These next shots — and more in the gallery below — are from the Note 8.

Here’s the thing with this shot. Should you care to go to the SmugMug gallery and look at this photo at full resolution you would be able to read the inscriptions on the three headstones in the background . . . er . . . well, you would if you read what I presume is Japanese. Not only that, do you see the leaves in the background? Well, you can see the outline of all the leaves clearly separated from the other leaves.  

Crap! I just realized I might have been able to point the phone at the inscriptions and have Google translate them! I’ll have to try that next time I’m there.  

The background here is sufficiently blurred to help you focus on the main subject. I could have manually blurred the background, but I didn’t remember to try it. 

Here, I’ll sound like a broken record but WordPress degrades the photos . . . click on the above to at least see the larger version.

Here’s a shot similar to that taken with the Nikon . . . 

The only thing I need to pay attention to is keeping the phone vertical to minimize the distortion due to the wide-angle lens, but otherwise, not bad. Also, I just noticed the surnames on these two graves are the same. 

In the full-size version, you can read the names in the back and almost make out the dates. I know there are people out there who like shallow depth of field. I think I made it clear before that I ain’t one of them. I like me a deep depth of field (for most but not all shots).  

Here, I decided to take a couple of panorama shots. 

Once again, click HERE for the full-size version (11 MB). You can’t make out the individual names, but you can make out the white-on-black Arakaki name in the back. 

Here’s the other panorama. No original here; visit the SmugMug gallery if you really need to see it. 

Let me quickly go through the rest . . . 

I wanted to see how the macro compared to the Nikon (although, the macro with the Nikon is not technically a macro because I used a telephoto lens). 

I’ll say it . . . not bad. Here are two more . . . 

Why, that looks like Difficile Pryous, named by me in THIS post. Fancy finding that here, a quarter of the way around the world. 

I do like cemeteries . . . there’s something about the idea of someone wanting to mark a place where their remains — or those of their loved ones — are resting. Me, I want my ashes blown on the faces of Senators and Congressmen all the religious leaders who assiduously worked to shorten my life. 

Sometimes it’s difficult to figure out if something is still a marker. perhaps this is one of the markers that were damaged by the earthquake. 

And here we are; the end of the post and the promised gallery (minus the panoramas since they don’t show well in the gallery):

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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