Makiyama Kysaburo


Makiyama Kyusaburo (牧山久三郎) (Ojiichan) (28 Aug 1900 - 2 Sep 1961, all American paperworks indicates that he was born 28 Aug 1901, but then there would be an issue with his father, Gensaburo’s immigration to Hawaii on 5 Dec 1899)

Ojiichan was born on Madarashima, Saga Prefecture, Japan on 28 August 1901.  His memory of his childhood seemed happy.  He always talked about his aunts and cousins with whom he grew up with in very affectionate ways.  He attended the Terakoya School System.  Aunty Shirley used to say that he was so lucky to have been educated under the Terakoya System because unlike today’s school system, it gave you an education in reading, writing, arithmetic, and got you ready for life.

When he graduated grade school, he was offered a Prefecture scholarship, but his mother, a devote Catholic, sent him to Seminary School.  There he studied to become a Priest until his mother took him to Hawaii in 1915* to “pick up” his father’s bones.

The story gets told as follows.  The Japanese Consulate wrote to Ojiichan’s Mother (Great-Grandmother Natsu) saying that by the time she received this letter, her husband would be dead.  Please come and pick up his bones so he can be buried with his ancestors.  So Great-Grandmother Natsu booked Ojiichan and herself on the SS Manchuria departing from Nagasaki on 13 Sep 1915, arriving in Honolulu on 28 Sep 1915.  When they arrived on Maui to “pick up” his father’s bones, they found him at the teahouse partying with geishas having a great time.

Ojiichan never said much about the years between 1915 and 1920.  I’m sure that he must have worked somewhere and went to barber school.  In later years, he spoke Hawaiian and English fluently.  I remember he said that he lived in a Hawaiian village and I used to think he was joking, but he did speak Hawaiian so he may not have been joking.

Ojiichan (20) married Granny (16) in 1920.  Based on the 1910 Census data, Granny was 16 in 1920.  Mama’s birth certificate lists Ojiichan as 22 and Granny as 18 and that she was born on 28 Jul 1921 (wonky birth certificate, 15 Nov 1921).   We know they are all fabricated, but Mama does have a birth certificate that says she was born in Lahaina.  Mama’s story stops when she was taken to Japan when she was 2 1/2 years old and resumes when she came back in 1939.  Sometime in 1923, Ojiichan and Granny had a son, Harumi.  His birth was celebrated, but his story is a sad story, lost among the events started when Ojiichan’s parents took Mama to Japan with them.

During the 1920‘s and early 1930’s, Ojiichan owned and operated barbershops and beauty salons on Lanai, Maui and Oahu.  He also operated a gambling joint and rotated ladies through Lanai on a weekly basis for the single pineapple workers with the blessing of James D. Dole.  Granny used to take the ferry from Lanai to Lahaina (ferry still runs), then a plane from Maui to Honolulu just to get her hair done.

Sometime during 1924, probably the year that Mama was taken to Japan, Granny left Ojiichan.  Her family was very unhappy over the event and more so when she came to them pregnant with a married man’s child.  This is Etsuko’s story.  Ojiichan took Granny back and the illegitimate child was adopted by a couple named Koga.

Early 1928, Harumi died from an unattended mosquito bite that got infected (death recorded as blood poisoning).  From all indications, he should have been buried on Lanai.  On 6 Dec 1928 Hisayuki was born  on Lanai.  Granny was not particularly happy to have another child hamper her lifestyle so he was left in the care of a Nanny that Hisayuki called Abe no Okaasan.  This is Hisayuki’s story. 

I’m assuming in 1935 because Ojiichan said Hisayuki was 7 when Granny left Ojiichan for the last time.  This time she took their operating funds with her to the Big Island to live with a guy named Nishiki (who was also married with children) and to purchase a hotel called Yumei Kan.  Later on in life (1953/4/5 time period), when we used to visit Granny in Hilo, there was no guy named Nishiki, nor was there a hotel named Yumei Kan.  She said that she sold the hotel and downsized to a little motel in Hilo.  I do know that she used to run it like a teahouse (of the August Moon type) and on weekends she used play house to card games.  Assumption is that Nishiki went back to his wife because by this time Granny had replaced him with another married man by the name of Osato who, according to Mama was a painting contractor in Hilo.

Assumption is that after Granny left Ojiichan, he closed shop and left Lanai.  In the Polk’s Directory City and County Honolulu and the Territory of Hawaii we find that he is living in Honolulu in 1937-38.  He returns to Wailuku in the 1938-39 Directory and then in 1939-40 he is living in Makawao.  Mama says that he moved to Makawao because the doctor recommended that he take Mama to a cooler climate for her health.  The 1942 Directory lists Ojiichan as living in Hanapepe, Kauai.

24 Mar 1939 Mama arrives from Japan to live with Ojiichan.  At first he boarded her at the Kalihi Uka Children’s Home to learn English with the students.  Mama was going to school with the children but she blames the Nuns for speaking only French to each other.  My assumption is that she didn’t want to learn English so she’d find any way out.

Ojiichan probably moved the family to Kauai in 1941.  Mr. Yamachika’s daughter offered Ojiichan a chance at operating her Aloha Barbershop in Hanapepe and he accepted.  I always wondered what the connection was between Mr. Yamachika and Ojiichan.  He lived and worked in Hanapepe during World War II through about 1950.

In 1946, Hisayuki enlisted in the Army.  If I remember correctly, Ojiichan saying that it was in Nov 1946, so he was 17 and technically required Ojiichan’s signature.  Ojiichan was devastated that his only son wanted to join the Army.  According to Mama, she married my father in May 1946 and when she went home to Kauai, Hisayuki didn’t want to live with Ojiichan while Mama went to live with her husband.  There could be some truth to this because my brother, Michael has the same attitude.  He might have to give up something for somebody else.

As a by line, Mama told me the other day that Ojiichan used to take night classes.  His friends from the Maui and Lanai days would come by to visit him and get their hair cut and ask him how he was doing in the “ga-gi-gu-ge-go classes”.  Ojiichan would laugh and say, it’s ok.

Mama stayed with Ojiichan.  She had me and my brother while living in Hanapepe.  My father was in medical school in Kansas.  Ojiichan’s rheumatism got so bad that when I was about 3 1/2 years old he could no longer barber.  I remember we used to visit him at the Waimea Hospital in the Veteran’s Ward.  I never understood why the Veteran’s Ward because Ojiichan was not a Veteran; however his doctor worked for Veteran’s Administration.  That must have been the connection.  Mama asked my father to take a break from medical school and come home until Ojiichan got back on his feet.  My father said that he only had another year and the answer was no.  Mama, in her rage told him that children don’t live on grass like cows and horses.  If he didn’t come home now, he could forget about ever coming home.  And so ended their marriage and began our dependence on Ojiichan.  Mama also went to see the Veteran’s Administration to get the child and spouse support check sent to her instead of her husband.  The VA asked Mama if she wanted to have my father prosecuted for misuse of government funds because he had been spending the support checks on himself.  Mama told them no, that was a bad idea if the children’s father was a jail-bird.

Ojiichan spent 6 months recovering.  He had to reinvent himself.  He could no longer cut hair, so he decided to try a new occupation, gardener.  When I was a little over 4, Ojiichan found a job with the GP Wilcox Estate in Lihue as a gardener.  Where did this guy learn to garden?  I asked Mama the other day and she said that he used to accompany his friend (she doesn’t remember his name) from the University of Hawaii Tropical Agriculture on his trips to the outer islands.  They were bonsai friends.  Ojiichan said that Lihue was a better place when we started school.  Within 6 months, we were whisked off to the GN Wilcox Estate to live until I was 18.  Elsie H. Wilcox made him the go-to person on the Estate.  Ojiichan started at 6AM and did the door lock checks at 8PM.  In between he ran the gardens.  Miss Elsie brought in day labor from Grove Farm Plantation to do the weeding and hard labor that Ojiichan required done to keep the Estate looking good.   We were happy.  We had a dog and many cats.  We lived on the Estate, played ball in the middle of the Estate lawn, and got to eat every fruit growing on the Estate.

Ojiichan grew a lot of bonsai.  Bonsai were his savings account.  Whenever we needed extra funds, he’d take couple of bonsai to Honolulu and sell them.  He must have had some high powered customers because couple of bonsai would fund a round trip airfare to Hilo for 3 and have leftover spending money.  I remember one time he wanted to buy a puppy that cost $600 from a breeder in Honolulu.  He did his usual sell couple of bonsai and bought the puppy.  She was the sweetest German Shorthaired Pointer.  She slept in the bed with my brother.  Miss Mabel Wilcox really liked her and so Frosty was allowed to roam all over the estate with Ojiichan.  Our last dog, Brownie was one of her puppies.

In the late 50’s, Ojiichan decided that Mama needed to remarry.  He took Citizenship classes and became Naturalized, I’m not sure of the year, but probably about 1958.  He asked his cousin’s widow, Kawano to come to Hawaii and marry him and adopt my brother and me.  In exchange, Ojiichan signed over his land on Madarashima to Kawano’s daughter, Reiko.  Reiko had contracted polio as a child, but if she had funds, the family would take care of her and the lands that they had been farming anyways.  However, like the plans of Mice and Men...

Nov 1960, Ojiichan had a toothache.  He did not have a cavity, but the dentist extracted his tooth because he thought there might be a wisdom tooth problem.  The wound did not heal.  The dentist sent him to the doctor for a biopsy and they found cancer.  The Wilcox’s doctor sent him to Straub in Honolulu for the operation and the following year on 2 Sep, Ojiichan died.

Ojiichan left his foot print on Maui in the 1920 Census, the 1930 Census, and the 1940 Census (to be out in Apr 2012).  

1920 Census:  He, and his parents, Genzaburo and Natsu, lived on Waikapu Road.

1930 Census:  He, Akiye and Hisayuki lived on Lanai on Block 5.  Ojiichan owned and operated a barbershop.  They had a boarder, Santa Shimabukuro who also worked at the barbershop.

1940 Census:  He, his daughter, Hisaye and his son, Hisayuki were living in Makawao.

Modern day Lanai Town from Google Earth.  The streets are laid out in a grid so maybe one day I’ll find out where Block 5 was.

A Love Story (American Makiyama Roots 1)

Kyuemon Yamaguchi (山口久衛問)

A Runaway (American Makiyama Roots 2)

Makiyama Gensaburo (牧山源三郎)

©December 2020 by hisiamone