by Lowell Angell
Part of the charm of living in Mānoa is its rich history. To celebrate our history and National Historic Preservation Month in May, we’re recognizing the two oldest cultural organizations in the valley, along with the latest Mānoa residences added to the State Historic Register.
The Mānoa Chinese Cemetery, also known as Lin Yee Chung Cemetery, was founded 170 years ago in March 1852, and is the oldest and largest Chinese cemetery in the islands. Its 10.75 acre site holds about 10,000 burials. Lin Yee Chung was founded as the first Chinese society in the Kingdom of Hawai‘i by a group of immigrants who were mostly contract laborers.
They hired a practitioner skilled in the art of Feng Shui, Lum Ching, to find a suitable site on O‘ahu for a cemetery. The hillside location he discovered in Mānoa, surrounded by the mountains and with a view of the ocean, was considered to be an “extraordinary spot.” The cemetery also includes a “bone house” and a community center, and continues to this day to practice Chinese cultural burial traditions during Ching Ming season. It was placed on the State Historic Register in 1997. For more information: https://www.manoachinesecemetery.org/
Mānoa Japanese Language School was founded with 12 students in 1910, which was the 25th anniversary of Japanese immigration to Hawai‘i. In 1929, the East Mānoa Road property was purchased, and a pine tree planted with seeds from Japan. That tree still flourishes today. During World War II, the school was closed and the property leased to the civil defense office and the fire department. Five trustees were appointed to look after the school’s assets and they tenaciously protected them. The school reopened in 1948 with 250 students. In 1955, the familiar historic wooden building next to the road, part of old Mānoa School, was purchased and moved to the property. A new classroom building was built in 1962. The school continues its mission of educating younger generations in the language and culture of Japan. For more information: https://manoajapaneselanguageschool.org/
The Chinese cemetery and Japanese language school each contribute to Mānoa’s cultural heritage and diversity and are important parts of Mānoa’s history, and we celebrate them.