A Ghostly Legacy
a sticky, Saturday evening, about 20 people, many of them strangers, gather at
Glen Grant's The Haunt, a café and bookstore in Mö'ili'ili. Someone shuts off
the lights. Lopaka Kapanui, a Hawaiian man holding a flashlight, asks everyone
to form a circle around him. |
Kapanui is about to lead them on a four-and-a-half-hour journey through some of O'ahu's most haunted sites. Most of the spectators who signed up for the Ghosthunters Bus Tour will hear chicken-skin tales-some familiar, others brand-new-at the places where they supposedly happened. There are the spirits of children who hide in trees at the Mänoa Chinese Cemetery, the faceless woman who inhabits Kähala Mall and the man who hung himself at Morgan's Corner.
Grant-a local historian and author of Obake books-started these "Chicken Skin" ghost tours in 1974.
"Glen was just so talented, so brilliant, and he used all he had," says Jill Staas, Grant's former business partner. "He could write, he could tell a story, he was mesmerizing and he was open and giving with all of his talents."
When Grant died last year, Hawai'i lost one of its greatest storytellers. But it didn't lose the precious tales he had collected over the years. His stories live on through Kapanui, who Grant hired in 1997 to lead the bus tour.
"One day, Jill and I were sitting in his office, looking around and really missing him," Kapanui says. "Finally, Jill says, 'Well, Lopaka, it's all on you now. You gotta carry on and do all of Glen's tours.' I said, 'I can't do Glen's tours. The shoes are too big to fill.' She said, 'If you don't do them, then who will?'"
Kapanui conceded, but he took it slow, at first. For about a year, he continued hosting the Ghosthunters Bus Tour. In August, he resurrected Grant's monthly "Mysteries of Mö'ili'ili" walking tour and plans to add more tours within the next few months.
While Kapanui shares his mentor's uncanny timing in telling stories, their styles differ. Kapanui incorporates his Hawaiian cultural beliefs into the tours, offering chants or prayers at most sites along the way.
"My style is to approach everything with respect and reverence," Kapanui says. "I make it a point to bring in the cultural aspect, as well as parapsychology and historical perspective."
These days, it's Kapanui who strangers approach with ghost stories. Like Grant, Kapanui doesn't mind. He even includes some of them in the tours.
"Glen always told me,
'The story's the thing,'" Kapanui says. "A lot of times, the story ends up telling itself. It's almost like I'm just a vehicle."