Hawai'i Ways, Hawai'i Days
1900 Manoa was 'Village'
By Bob Arizumi
Special to The Advertiser
In the early 1900s, the central part of Manoa Valley was quite developed with paved streets and cut-stone curbing. Nearly all the residents of this area were Caucasian families. However, East Manoa Road, from Kolowalu Street and all the way up to the Chinese cemetery, was just an unpaved, muddy road on rainy days. (It was finally paved in the late 1920s.)
East Manoa Road, with its many side "lanes," was called "the Village." The majority of people living in the Village were immigrant Japanese families, who had family-run dairies and hog or truck farms. Other immigrants worked as gardeners or cooks, while their wives were housemaids or laundry women.
There were Chinese families who worked taro fields, which covered nearly a third of the valley, from present-day Noelani School to Manoa School, and on both sides of East Manoa Road. There were some Portuguese and Hawaiian families who worked at various trades outside of the valley.
The early Japanese of the Village were concerned about their growing children's education and future. Years later, after establishing themselves in the valley, they formed a hui and leased a property on East Manoa Road, next to the old Manoa School, and built two classrooms, opening the Manoa Japanese Language School in 1910.
The original Manoa School was on East Manoa road (from the Japanese School to the present Manoa Fire Station) and was founded in 1854, being the third oldest public school in Hawai'i. It continued for more than 100 years at this location until it was moved to Manoa Road, its present site, in 1957. The old school had classes up to the eighth grade until 1928, when Washington Intermediate School was built. Now after the sixth grade, Manoa elementary students could attend a Junior High School before going to the only public high school in Honolulu, McKinley High School.
Bob Arizumi wrote this piece for a now-defunct Manoa Valley publication. He still lives in the valley.